‘The Whole Thing Upsets Me’: Mayor Finally Visits Rikers


A spokesman for the Department, Jason Kersten, said that the claims were not true, and that the intake facility had been cleaned regularly all this week “because it needed to be cleaned,” adding that it had “nothing to do with today’s tour.”

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat with less than four months left in office, had faced growing pressure to visit the jail after a steady stream of elected officials had toured the facility in recent weeks and described in emotional terms having witnessed a humanitarian crisis. After a visit last week, New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, said in a statement that she was “examining all of my office’s legal options to immediately address this dire situation.”

Mr. de Blasio defended his record, arguing that he had reduced the jail population while in office and had approved a plan to close the jail in the coming years. He last visited Rikers during his run for re-election in June 2017, the same year that he backed a plan to close the jail complex.

Officials have insisted that they have the capacity to solve the issues plaguing Rikers, where the city oversees eight different facilities. At a City Council hearing this month, Vincent Schiraldi, the commissioner of the Correction Department, and Dean Fuleihan, the city’s first deputy mayor, said that they would not need outside help.

“I strongly believe that the City of New York can fix this,” Mr. Schiraldi said.

But the request for the briefing from the House Committee members was only the latest signal that officials concerned about conditions at the jail complex are increasingly looking toward other parties for help.

The lawmakers — Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Jamie Raskin of Maryland — filed a letter giving the mayor, as well as Mr. Schiraldi, until Monday of next week to issue a report on the conditions at Rikers.

In a statement, Ms. Maloney said that the situation on the island was an “absolute disgrace.”

“The Oversight Committee is calling for an urgent briefing on the actions the City of New York is taking to address these deplorable conditions,” she said.