NYC inmates miss doctor visits as DOC violates court order

Scores of inmates continue to miss doctor appointments in Big Apple’s jails despite a recent court order requiring the Justice Department to fix the ongoing problem, city data shows.

The DOC recorded 8,402 missed doctor visits in February, a 24% increase from January, which reported 6,792 missed visits, according to the data.

The ailing agency claims the majority of visits were missed because inmates refused to leave, but the Legal Aid Society, which is currently suing the department for failing to provide timely medical care, called the claim “dubious”.

“DOC … claims that 6,311 missed appointments in February were due to people refusing to do so, but a review of medical records, testimonies from those incarcerated and even a review of the DOC’s own records demonstrates the dubiousness of that claim,” the group said public defender in a statement.

“In 3,254 of the denials reported, the DOC admits there can be no explanation for the person refusing. It may be that many of these individuals were not even informed of their appointment.”

The data’s footnotes said that DOC’s “current staffing levels contribute to the increase in the total number of non-productions,” but a spokesman for the agency declined to give a specific reason for the missed appointments.

Victor Pate, campaign organizer for the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Solitary Confinement, speaks during a rally outside Gov. Kathy Hochul's NYC office March 21, 2022 in New York City. Prison activists gathered outside Gov. Kathy Hochul's NYC office to draw attention to conditions on Rikers Island.
A Bronx judge found that the DOC failed to provide timely medical care to inmates in December.
Michael M Santiago/Getty Images

“The non-production of clinic appointments varies from month to month, depending in large part on those in custody who have the right to refuse treatment and appointments, and other factors. We are committed to ensuring everyone in our custody has access to quality medical care,” the spokesman said.

In December, Bronx Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Taylor found that the DOC had failed to provide timely medical care to inmates after the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit alleging that inmates were being deprived of vital service.

Taylor issued an emergency court order directing the DOC to reduce the number of missed or late appointments and to provide sufficient staff to allow detainees to be transported to and from visits. The judge also asked the department to allow inmates the ability to make appointments five days a week and within 24 hours of a request.

Record of missed DOC dates.
City data shows that the DOC recorded 8,402 missed doctor visits in February, a 24% increase from January.
NYC dates

More than 7,000 doctor’s appointments were missed in December under Taylor’s orders, and in late January, Ada Pressley, the DOC’s office’s chief of facility operations, admitted the agency had failed.

“In my opinion, this rate of production does not constitute material compliance with relevant guidelines to provide timely access to clinics,” Pressley wrote in an affidavit filed with the court that included the dismal December figures.

The admission prompted the Legal Aid Society to ask Taylor to despise the agency. She still has to decide on the application.

A view of the entrance to the Rikers Island Prison in New York, New York.
Two inmates have died in DOC custody this year.

Last year, 16 people died in DOC custody, more than the previous two years combined and the most since 2016, which saw 15 deaths in custody, records show. So far in 2022, two inmates have died in custody. NYC inmates miss doctor visits as DOC violates court order


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