Rikers Island is hell. For the latest evidence of this, see the case of Jairo Polanco Munoz, a 24-year-old man who was incarcerated there for just 70 hours before he died in his cell, likely by suicide.
Munoz was locked up awaiting trial on petty larceny charges after allegedly stealing a cell phone from a Dunkin’ Donuts. Like most people in Rikers, Munoz had not been convicted of the crime. Like most people in Rikers, he was poor: He was given $750 bail, bail he evidently could not afford to pay.
Munoz had a history of mental health issues, the New York Daily News reports. In a previous stay, he attempted suicide so seriously that he required a breathing tube to recover. Despite this history, he was not given any special supervision upon his entry to Rikers. He had a basic health checkup, with a further examination to be scheduled within the next 72 hours. But the jail went on lockdown after a stabbing, and the second examination was postponed until the lockdown was over.
Seventy hours after Munoz entered the facility, before he could have a full checkup, guards found him dead in his cell. It’s impossible to know what was inside his head, but we know quite well the horrors of what Rikers is like, especially for the mentally ill. The News notes that in January, Angel Perez-Rios, another inmate, killed himself after a series of health appointments that were also canceled due to lockdowns.