Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Short Life Ends on Rikers Island, in a Place Where Suicide Isn't Supposed to Happen


This story is SO SO SO SAD!


A must read- all the way through.

On the day that he arrived at Rikers Island last October, Steven Morales was a major suicide risk.

He was just 17 years old, charged with murder, accused of suffocating his infant daughter. He was a product of the city's foster-care system, his mother having abandoned him at birth. He had no money, little or no ties to family, and few friends. His only solid relationship—with his girlfriend, the mother of the dead infant—was collapsing.

Morales's lawyer considered the suicide risk so great that he recommended to a judge that the teen be housed in protective custody—where, the lawyer presumed, someone would keep a closer eye on him.

Protective custody, where inmates are locked in their cells up to 23 hours a day, was introduced to Rikers by jails boss Martin Horn in 2005 to house dangerous or vulnerable inmates, who would be safer there than in the general population.

But on April 27, something went terribly wrong when Horn's supervision system broke down.

That afternoon, Morales spoke to his girlfriend on the telephone and learned that she was breaking up with him, severing his last tie to the outside world. Devastated, he returned to his cell, secured a towel to the top of his cell door, wrapped the other end around his neck, and ended his life.

The officers assigned to the unit didn't notice until one of their bosses visited the floor and found him. By then, of course, it was too late.

"Someone needs to be held accountable," says Morales's lawyer, Javier Solano, a former Brooklyn prosecutor. "Based on his history and the fact that this kid, at age 17, was accused of a horrific crime, there certainly should have been much more supervision. I don't understand how he was able to do it in that setting."

The suicide in the Robert N. Davoren Center— occurring in the very place where inmate safety is supposed to be the highest priority—raises new questions about security issues at the jails under Horn's supervision, which the Voice has been reporting on for several months.

While conditions in the jails are certainly better than they were at the height of the crack epidemic, documents and interviews have revealed that violence is still a problem in the system. A series of Voice stories, for example, disclosed a spate of cases of correction officers using inmates as enforcers.

Correction Department spokesman Steve Morello declined to comment on the suicide, pending the results of several investigations.

The city Health Department, which is supposed to oversee the jails' for-profit medical and mental-health contractor, Prison Health Services, also declined to comment, citing federal and state patient-confidentiality laws.

MUCH More -Pages 2+ +

village voice > news > A Short Life Ends on Rikers Island, in a Place Where Suicide Isn't Supposed to Happen by Graham Rayman

8 comments:

Mr. Angry said...

There's some more on this story that only seemed to be posted online today:
http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0822,the-jail-interview-steven-morales-gave-to-columbia-grads,452016,1.html

Suicide watch, I thought, was suppose to be done every 15 minutes - not every half hour or worse.

momo27 said...

i just recenlty found out about my brothers death yesterday. i wish the system didnt fail. i met him a few times and once she adopted them she left and i neva heard from them again. we share the same mother. i adopted the last child she had. i wish i coulkd of had them too. i cared.

momo27 said...

this story you have here is about my brother steven. i wish i can do something but since he was adopted i have no rights. his name was david. thats how i know and will remeber him. i feel it that he killed his daughter by accident. what can i do cause my sisters that was adopted with him are somewhere needing help. we share the same mother but im not like her.

momo27 said...

as i mentioned above this story is about my brother, my sisters are out there needing my help and i was told i cant do nothing in there or his behave because he was adopted. i think they gonna sue because they can but not for him or the girls but because they want money and i cant help this hurts me so much to be a sitting duck.

Louise Uccio said...

Momo,

I'm sorry I really don't understand what you are asking me to help with?

Louise

Anonymous said...

Steven Morales formerly known as David was my brother too. I am his adopted sister who also has his 2 other sibilings who mean the world to me the same way he did. I want to explain something to Mrs. Momo27 which that part she mentioned is right about her being his blood sister. These kids have been in our lives since day 1. We did and our doing the best possible to ensure they live a normal life as being apart of our family because they are. You think its easy to know and have to deal with the fact that your no good for nothing mother literally gave them up and has left them with medical difficulties due to all the crack, prostitution and illnesses she and they encountered while being an innocent little fetus in her wound. These kids know where they come from and we have done are best to teach them that its where they are and where they are going that counts the most. What happened to Steven has been a tragedy. It has taken a real big toll on our family. But one day at a time is what seems to help us get through it and I just dont understand how momo27 seems to be hurting right now. You never looked for those kids. I MEAN NEVER. All of sudden steven dies and your aware of a lawsuit being placed you then wanna pop out of know where saying that you cared, talking about how you wish you were there for them and then have the nerve to say that we are sueing just because we want the money. I mean HELLO!!!! what are you crazy you. We were the ones there everyday every minute and we still are. So do me a favor and stop all the hurting because you didnt even know or gave a crap about him. And I'm also glad to find out that you did your homework. You really thought you were going to be entitled to a lawsuit because you share his blood. Obviously you found out that its not happening atleast not for you because on top of them being legally adopted I need you to understand that we were the ones there. Like I said earlier everyday and every minute and for your information it has never been about money bc their has been any until now. Its always been about them. And your just plain old stupid if you cant see that.

momo27 said...

First off I wasnt looking for money for me,second i was looking for them i have court papers to PROVE it. i used to live around the corner from ur moms salon on fordham. I used to see them, more david than ashley. I have even given them money when they would go to blockbuster.You have more to say my email is boriguapa20@yahoo. ok I adopted my little brother. who came after demi who also has problems, but it isnt anyone else business about his situation. i just know what i know and what chow has told me and david before your moms disappeared with them.

Anonymous said...

Well just to let you know and I Quote "as i mentioned above this story is about my brother, my sisters are out there needing my help and i was told i cant do nothing in there or his behave because he was adopted. i think they gonna sue because they can but not for him or the girls but because they want money and i cant help this hurts me so much to be a sitting duck." All of that bothered me bc no one is sueing just to pocket money and not involve his siblings and no one is deperate for your help their doing just fine. So theres no reason to be sitting like a duck. Also no one has disappeared their closer than what you think. So I'll let them know that you've tried looking for them and if their interested I'll respond.