Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Filed by Former Rikers’ Inmates Claiming Abuse

Announcer: It’s Quinn and Cantara on PYX 106.

Quinn: It’s 1800law1010, Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti on the horn.

Cantara: Morning, Paul.

Paul: Hey, good morning, guys. Good morning.

Quinn: Hey, yeah. So I’m reading about this solitary confinement, how they’ve been sending people up to Albany because they banned solitary.

Cantara: From Rikers to Albany.

Quinn: Yeah, I was more surprised that they banned solitary confinement at Rikers. I feel like that goes with the territory. We got lawsuits up here. One guy was left in solitary confinement for a year or something. What’s the latest on this story?

Paul: So, well, it’s a settlement. The case settled and I think the public and people just generally read this. It just makes them crazy that you’ve got folks who are in jail and then they have a lawsuit and they’re successful to some degree in settling it. But the facts are these. New York City passed…you’re 21 and under, you cannot go in solitary confinement. Now there are times, for a limited period of time, where people need to be there. They’re dangerous to themselves, to the guards, to other inmates, but New York City’s gone ahead and said, “Nope, that’s not what we’re gonna do here. We’re progressive.” But, they sort of [crosstalk 001:01:10]…

Quinn: They sent them up to Albany, though.

Cantara: Yeah, so [crosstalk 00:01:12]…
Paul: So they sent them up to Albany. So we’re getting the worst of the worst. And so that’s what happened. They got up here and there was altercations, allegations that the guards, maybe, were a little rough with them, and then put them in solitary confinement, bring a lawsuit, and somehow they were successful.

Quinn: So a couple of things. There will be no…Albany didn’t admit to any guilt in this, I don’t know, lawsuit. So has the law changed in Albany? Are we still gonna put people under 21 in solitary for great lengths of time?

Paul: We sure are. Yeah, so that has not changed. What’s changing is we’re not going to be accepting, nor are they sending, prisoners from Rikers Island to Albany to house them. Yeah, we’re gonna keep doing that. Again, it’s one of those settlements. They’re probably doing the math, and saying, “Hey, this lawsuit’s gonna go on for a long time. It’s super expensive.”

Quinn: I was just gonna ask you. Like what’s $980,000 divided by 4? Do they split it evenly? Does the guy who got a year by himself in solitary, does he get more? I mean, it’s almost like I could justify it.

Paul: They didn’t disclose that. Yeah, they didn’t disclose who’s getting what, but they’re gonna get that. Their attorney’s gonna get a portion of it and the county probably just said, “This is gonna cost us more to defend. We’re gonna resolve this.” And maybe they took a look at this and they found some things they didn’t like that did occur. We don’t know about that, but we do know that it’s over, and so is the transfer of prisoners from Rikers Island to Albany.

Quinn: So is that…jail isn’t a business so it’s not bad for business. Now, we’re not accepting, or is it a business?

Paul: Yeah, I think probably we look at that and there was some revenue that was coming in and there was some upside. Of course, here’s some downside. You take these folks in and now you’re subjected to this lawsuit. But yeah, I think there’ll be some effect to that, but they didn’t say that, but I’m, kind of, thinking why else would they do it, right? If there wasn’t some financial upside for taking prisoners, they don’t have an obligation to do it, but, and that’s where we are. And I look at the folks who work in these prisons and jails and their life is pretty rough. And, at this point, they’re dealing with what I’ll call the worst of the worst that came up from New York. They couldn’t handle them down there, we took them, and now we’re paying the price

Quinn: A year, so that’s the kind of thing they did to people in asylums in the ’40s.

Cantara: That’s cruel and unusual, I think.

Quinn: I say it feels like it.

Cantara: Hey Paul, when’s the last time you went to prison? Like, went to a prison? Do you ever have to do that?

Paul: Yeah, well, to a prison? Well, I haven’t done it in years, but it was probably 15 or 18 years ago. And every time you walked through that, I’ve never done it, you kind of walk through, you give them your stuff, and then the door slams, like there’s a gate that slams. Then there’s another gate that you walk into. Now you’re in the middle. Then they slam another gate, and at that point, you know you’re in. It’s a super unique feeling. For those who have never done it, I don’t recommend you do it on the defendant’s side, but you do get a sense that it is a world like no other. And you are lost in a prison [crosstalk 00:04:15].

Quinn: Right. That’s what I think we don’t understand here. We have no idea what Rikers is like. I don’t even know what Albany is like.

Cantara: We’ve seen a video of Rikers. I can’t imagine Albany’s any better. But, I mean, it sounds like a horror show. My biggest concern is going in there and having them make a mistake and keep me there. That’s like a nightmare for me. [crosstalk 00:04:32].

Paul: Right. You look like someone else or they got your ID wrong. Yeah, give you a jumpsuit.

Cantara: So with my one phone call, should I call you, Paul, or should I call my wife?

Paul: Well, call her because, just in case, because I think she’ll definitely answer, and I’ll probably answer. You never know what time it’s gonna be, yeah.

Cantara: That’s comforting. There’s a chance that Paul might be on the phone with somebody else who’s in need. So call Sarah. Okay. That’s great advice.

Quinn: All right. Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, 1800law1010 and Thanks, Paul.

Cantara: See you, buddy.

Paul: Okay guys, talk to you.

Announcer: Quinn and Cantara.