The city Department of Correction revealed Tuesday that an eighth inmate has now died in custody so far this year — its second fatality in fewer than 48 hours.
Albert Drye, 50, succumbed at the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward around 11:30 a.m. after he was transported to the infirmary from Rikers Island earlier in the day, according to the DOC and jailhouse sources.
Drye, who had two open cases against him in Manhattan and The Bronx for assault and possession of a weapon, had previously been housed at the Eric M. Taylor Center since arriving at Rikers in mid-May, records say.
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His cause of death wasn’t immediately clear, but EMTC has recently been severely understaffed and grappling with a surge in slashings, stabbings and overcrowding issues in its intake unit, the Board of Correction revealed last week.
A BOC member said EMTC’s intake unit was so understaffed, most new admissions to the jail aren’t undergoing body scans to check for drugs, weapons or other contraband upon their arrival, which is compounding overall safety concerns at the troubled jail complex.
The average rate of slashings and stabbings has been higher at EMTC than the department-wide rate so far this year, and in three separate incidents in May, detainees were injured so badly in unsupervised housing areas, they were sent to the hospital, the BOC said.
The revelations led DOC Commissioner Louis Molina to suddenly shut down the Otis Bantum Correctional Center on Friday and transfer a number of high-ranking staff members to EMTC to help with the issues, internal records obtained by The Post show.
Early Monday morning, 39-year-old Anibal Carrasquillo died from a possible drug overdose after he was recently transferred from OBCC to another housing area that was left understaffed, too, jailhouse sources said.
Two doses of Narcan, which is used to reverse opioid overdoses, were used on Carrasquillo, but he could not be saved, sources said.
He’s the third detainee to die from a suspected overdose so far this year.
Fentanyl, a highly potent and deadly opioid, has been “circulating” through the jail, sources noted, and it’s been difficult to find because of the agency’s ongoing staffing crisis, which has limited the DOC’s ability to conduct searches.
“We are both heartbroken and outraged to learn of Albert Drye’s passing. … So far, DOC has refused to provide Mr. Drye’s lawyers with the most basic information concerning his passing, and this is an all-to-common scenario that we – along with client’s family members, friends and community – routinely face in these tragic situations,” The Legal Aid Society, which represented Drye, said in an e-mail.
“We demand immediate answers from the City and the jail medical staff about the circumstances leading to Mr. Drye’s death, and we again call on elected officials, prosecutors, the courts and other stakeholders to facilitate the decarceration of local jails before another New Yorker has to spend their final moments confined to a cage in a facility grappling with a full-fledged humanitarian crisis.”
Meanwhile, Molina issued a nearly identical statement to the one he released Monday after Carrasquillo’s death.
“Any death in custody is a tragedy, and it’s disheartening to hear about the passing of this individual,” Molina said.
“To learn that a loved one passed away while incarcerated is not only devastating, but extremely traumatizing. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who loved this individual.”