Disgraced New York City Councilman Ruben Wills has sued the City of New York over his treatment while incarcerated on Riker’s Island. According to the former politician, his four-day stint at Rikers caused him immense pain and resulted in his need for a wheelchair. Wills is now trying to hold the Department of Corrections and the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs medical operations at Rikers, liable for the damages he says were caused by their neglect.
The former councilman was convicted of stealing over $33,000 campaign funds and grants. Wills was originally indicted on multiple fraud and larceny charges in 2014. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that Wills spent government grant money meant for charities at two department stores. Less than a year later, Wills was arrested again on separate charges relating to his campaign. According to the Conflict of Interest Board filings, Wills did not properly disclose his financial dealings.
After refusing a plea deal, Wills was eventually convicted in 2016. The Queens judge who presided over his case immediately expelled him from City Council and sentenced him to two to six years for his crime.
Even though he spent only four days at the jail, his experience at the jail apparently left him in “searing pain and confined to a wheelchair,” according to The Daily Beast. Wills alleges that the corrections facility lost his medical records, would not give him medication that he was prescribed, and would not take him to the infirmary until he had been complaining for three days. At that point, he says, he was so injured that he was unable to walk on his own.
According to the Daily Beast, some of his allegations have an evidentiary basis. According to medical records provided by Wills, instead of giving him Oxycontin and Percocet, as reportedly prescribed, Rikers, would only give him Tylenol-3, a milder pain reliever with codeine. Further, a corrections spokeswoman said the Department of Corrections which runs Rikers Island never received any orders from the judge concerning Wills health conditions or placement in the infirmary.
Rikers Island is no stranger to controversy. The jail complex is known for its horrific conditions and outdated approach to incarceration. In fact, the apparent culture of corruption and violence has become so terrible that both Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo agree the entire prison needs to be shut down. With a reputation for brutality and inhumane treatment, it is no surprise that the facility faces numerous lawsuits.
Speaking from Marcy Correctional Facility upstate, Wills said, “The guards were really nasty. They kept saying, ‘You got to get up and walk’ but I said I was in a lot of pain.” he went on to describe the conditions at Riker’s in further detail calling them “inhumane.”