Coronavirus News: Part of Rikers without heat during weekend freeze

RIKERS ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- Family members with loved ones in Rikers continue to express concerns about the living conditions inside the jail as they remain unable to visit their loved ones amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the weekend, when New York City reached near freezing temperatures, 7 On Your Side Investigates received multiple complaints about a lack of heat in one section of the jail.

"They said they would give him another blanket -- another blanket, that's not the point," complained Tommiejo Orr, who said her husband is doing time for a parole violation. "Fix it. The inhumanity, the place is so dirty."

A spokesperson for the NYC Department of Correction confirmed that the Robert. N. Davoren Center had lost heat over weekend and added that inmates were given blankets while crews resolved the problem.

"The safety and well-being of individuals in our custody is vitally important especially during this difficult time," wrote DOC Press Secretary Jason Kersten in a statement. "We work around the clock to ensure that detainees have the items they need and are housed humanely,"
Orr said her husband had already contracted COVID-19 while inside the jail and was recovering when this heat issue occurred. She said she questions whether DOC is doing all that it can to keep inmates safe during the pandemic.

"They definitely cover it up because he tells me it's so dirty in there and they say they are trying to doing everything," Orr said. "They definitely are not doing that."

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