Rikers opened a unit for suspected firesetters. It had no fire suppression system.

A recently established unit on Rikers Island intended for individuals suspected of setting fires was swiftly closed down within a day. The closure came after a federal monitor, Steve Martin, responsible for overseeing Rikers Island’s conditions, highlighted its lack of necessary fire prevention equipment.

In a special report filed in a New York federal court, Martin emphasized the importance of fire suppression systems, especially for a unit focused on re-housing known fire-setters to mitigate arsons.

“The need is particularly acute for a unit attempting to re-house known fire-setters and thereby reduce arsons,” Martin said.

Despite the city Department of Correction’s claim that the unit met city building codes with sufficient sprinklers, it was revealed that not every cell had one.

The unit’s primary purpose was to house detainees suspected of starting fires, aiming to decrease overall fire incidents on Rikers Island.

Simultaneously, legal discussions persist regarding whether the control of New York City’s jails should be placed under federal receivership.

This debate stems from the escalating unsafe conditions at Rikers Island, marked by high levels of violence, the use of force by officers on detainees, and a perceived lack of transparency from city leaders on these issues.

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