Echevarria and Mercado vs. New York

Two inmates die because of negligence.

History of Rikers Island Jail Complex

  • The first jail on the island was Blackwell's Island which opened in 1935 (now known as Roosevelt Island).
  • The facility, even before it was opened, was warned of many health hazards by inspectors.
  • These health hazards included "dump fires", and previous issues from Blackwell's Island: corrupt correction officers, violence, drug use, and gang consolidation.
  • On average it houses more than 9,700 prisoners, but sometimes it has to squeeze in 15,000 prisoners.
  • There has been a 1,800 percent increase in reported assaults on medical staff over the past four years.
  • Stabbings and slashing's have doubled since 2010, and there were ten deaths last year.
  • Rikers Island Jail Complex consists of ten jails.
  • The Commissioner of the Department Correction is Joseph Ponte.
  • This complex contains a medical center (North Infirmary Command) which consists of 416 beds for ill people that need assistance.
  • It is thought to be named after Abraham Rycken, a Dutch settler who moved to Long Island in 1638.
  • The island was used as a military training ground during the Civil War.
  • In 1954, landfill was added which enlarged the original 90-acre island to 415 acres.
  • Illegal strip searches ended up costing New York City taxpayers $81 million in settlements to the victims.
  • Captain Sherman Graham and Assistant Deputy Warden Gail Lewis were arrested by the New York City Department of Investigation on June 1, 2007 for covering up an assault on an inmate.
  • Northeast Airlines Flight 823 crashed into Rikers Island in 1957, shortly after take-off from LaGuardia Airport; 20 people died ands 78 were injured (there were 95 passengers in all and 6 crew members).

History of the Inmates'

Jason Echevarria was a 25-year-old man that died because of negligence. Echevarria died in 2012 after he swallowed a toxic soap packet. He was ignored by jail staff for hours, and then Jason was found dead. Carlos Mercado was a 45-year-old man who died in 2013 because of complications from diabetes. Mercado had fallen to the floor and for three minutes he laid there while correction officers just stepped over him.

Inmate Case Points

  • New York had to pay Jason Echevarria's family $3.8 million.
  • The state also paid Carlos Mercado's family $1.5 million.
  • Correction Officers took away Mercado's insulin even though he needed it to live.
  • The correction officers then watched Carlos Mercado lay on the floor and die.
  • Also, correction officers watched Jason Echevarria die a slow, painful death while his insides were literally burning.

State's Ruling

The state of New York ruled in favor of Carlos Mercado and Jason Echevarria. Mercado and Echevarria did not receive a chance to live just because the correction officers at Rikers Island were lazy. Ex-Rikers Captain, Terrence Pendergrass, was sentenced to five years in prison for denying Jason Echevarria access to medical care and letting him die. Jason Echevarria died because correction officers did not care about his safety, and they just walked by his cell while he was dying. Lastly, New York ruled in favor of the families of Echevarria and Mercado because Carlos Mercado was denied insulin, and he was diabetic, so he needed it to live; Jason Echevarria was also denied the medical care he needed to survive.


The number of inmates that have died because of negligence in New York was not available, but I found that Rikers Island Jail Complex has the worst conditions in all of New York jails, and Rikers has the most deaths for negligence.