FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2022
Compassionate release from jail for people in custody is an important tool for achieving justice, fairness, and death with dignity. However, the Board of Correction, the City agency with oversight of the Department of Correction and responsibility for investigation of all deaths, and near deaths, in custody must be made aware of its use.
In two recent cases, the circumstances surrounding two individuals’ release from custody immediately before death have raised concerns about proper reporting and transparency. On September 18, 2022, Elmore Robert Pondexter collapsed in his housing area while in custody and was gravely ill. Mr. Pondexter was granted a compassionate release on September 22, 2022, due to a lack of brain activity. He was pronounced dead within hours of his release. On June 10, 2022, Antonio Bradley attempted suicide while in custody. Mr. Bradley never regained consciousness following the incident. Mr. Bradley was granted a compassionate release on June 15, 2022, due to a lack of brain activity. He was pronounced dead three days after his release. In violation of the Board of Correction Minimum Standards authorized by the City Charter, the Department of Correction failed to notify the Board of these deaths.
The Board will also investigate the circumstances of compassionate release for Walter Turner, who, according to today’s media report, was placed on life support due to limited brain activity sometime between April and today. The Department, according to the New York Times, pushed his family to consent to a compassionate release, which was granted by the Courts on June 2, 2022. If this is true, it is troubling. Mr. Turner remains on life support at the time of publication. The Department did not notify the Board of this near death.
Transparency around deaths and near deaths in custody is required by law and regulation. The Board calls on the Department of Correction and partner agencies—specifically the City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation and Correctional Health Services—immediately to create a reporting mechanism for situations where a person in custody has been hospitalized and is granted a compassionate release while in the hospital. Such compassionate releases and any subsequent deaths during the hospitalization should be reported to the Board.
On September 22, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams appointed Dwayne C. Sampson as a member of the New York City Board of Correction for the remainder of a six-year term that will expire on October 13, 2023.
On April 19, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams appointed Jacqueline Pitts and Joseph Ramos as a member of the New York City Board of Correction, following their nomination by the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, for the First Judicial Department and the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, for the Second Judicial Division. Ms. Pitts and Mr. Ramos will serve a six-year term that will expire on October 13, 2027.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2022
New York, NY – The New York City Board of Correction has named Amanda Masters as its Executive Director. Masters will lead the Board’s independent oversight of the New York City jail system as the City moves forward with its plan to close the jail complex on Rikers Island and build four smaller, safer, and more humane jails in the boroughs.
An accomplished executive, Masters brings nearly 20 years of experience in the oversight of jails, police, and systems that serve people with disabilities. Her deep passion for the Board of Correction’s mission began over ten years ago when she served as the Board’s Deputy Executive Director and then as the Interim Executive Director. In January 2022, Masters again answered the call of duty by returning to the Board to lead the organization as the Interim Executive Director. Today’s announcement illustrates the Board’s confidence in Masters to effectively lead the Board of Correction during this critical and transformative period in New York City corrections.
The Board of Correction consists of nine members, three of whom are appointed directly by the Mayor, three by the Mayor jointly with the presiding justices of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the first and second judicial departments, and three by the City Council. The Executive Director of the Board of Correction is appointed by the Board’s members. Board members expressed the following sentiments regarding Masters’ selection:
Interim Chair Julio Medina: “BOC is proud to announce the selection of Amanda Masters as the new Executive Director of the Board of Correction. Amanda brings to this role vast and diverse professional experience engaging a practical and realistic approach to problem-solving. Amanda’s in-depth knowledge of Rikers coupled with her ability to collaborate with all the stakeholders will undoubtedly strengthen our city while simultaneously making Rikers safe for correctional officers, staff and detainees alike. I look forward to working with Amanda as we create a safer and transformative jail system for all.”
Dr. Robert L. Cohen: “Amanda Masters is the right choice: she understands the importance of the Board of Correction's Minimum Standards. In this difficult time, when the Mayor's Emergency Executive Order attempts to keep the Board from it critical oversight role, we, and the people living and working inside the jails are extremely fortunate to have her inspirational leadership. I have known Amanda for many years. She has the experience and stamina necessary for this difficult and crucial job.
Marco A. Carrión: “The Board of Correction needs a leader who is committed to the collaboration necessary to create a modern, fair, just and humane corrections system. Amanda Masters has shown herself to be both extremely knowledgeable and passionate, traits which are much needed in this time of transformation. It’s my pleasure to welcome Amanda as the new Executive Director of the Board of Correction.”
Freya Rigterink: “Amanda Masters is the right leader for the Board at this critical time. Over the years, working in her different capacities, she has shown incredible dedication to improving jail conditions and the care of people in custody. She is a talented and effective leader. We are grateful for her ongoing service and look forward to working with her in this role.”
Felipe Franco: “In Amanda Masters we found the right Executive Director to lead the Board of Correction in its oversight role of a correctional system in crisis, that is failing those who it meant to care and rehabilitate. Amanda Masters is a dedicated public servant who has over two decades of experience working with justice agencies, and who has consistently worked in protecting the rights of those with disabilities and those in the justice system. I am grateful for Amanda’s commitment to those in our jails, their loved ones and willingness to accept this challenging job.”
Incoming BOC Executive Director Amanda Masters has pledged her commitment to providing the agency stability and strong, empathetic leadership. She stated, “I am deeply honored to be appointed to the Board of Correction during these challenging times and will work with our team to ensure that the Board fulfills its mandate to evaluate the performance of the NYC Department of Correction, and enforce the Board's regulations concerning the 'care, custody, correction, treatment, supervision, and discipline of all persons held or confined under the jurisdiction of the Department of Correction.’”