Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

People are Dying from Mass Incarceration. Doctors and Community Members are Fighting for Healthcare Access

Within the past year, the Department of Corrections (DOC) and Correctional Health Services (CHS) have overseen 14 reported deaths and ongoing human rights violations in NYC jails. Community members have had enough. They are joining together to demand access to patients to prevent more from dying in DOC and CHS hands.

Mike Pappas

November 2, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share

On Saturday, a group of Bronx community members and healthcare workers approached Vernon C. Bain Center (VCBC), commonly referred to as “The Boat,” demanding to see and treat patients inside. This action comes at a time where concern has grown over the conditions inside, with 14 deaths reported in the last year alone. 

In addition to demanding contact with incarcerated folks in The Boat for community members, medical workers, and legal observers, activists’ demands include: monthly un-announced access to any jail facilities requested. Activists also raised the slogan “Free them All” and called for abolishing the incarceration system as a whole.

These starkly inhumane conditions are happening under a Democratic mayor and Democratic governor. This shows, once again, that the Democrats, like all capitalist politicians, help to uphold the U.S. mass incarceration system. As NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio leaves office, these actions come as no surprise. After all, this is the same administration that claims to want to shut down Rikers, not by freeing the humans caged there under abysmal conditions, but by opening smaller “designer,” borough based jails throughout the city. 

At the end of the day, capitalist politicians have no interest in dismantling the mass incarceration system in the U.S. Politicians give lip service to wanting “reform,” but the U.S. system of mass incarceration cannot be reformed, as it is integral to the functioning of capitalism. The only solution is to destroy this system, as a part of the process of destroying capitalism itself. See below for the press release from healthcare workers and members of the group Eyes on You.


October 30, 2021

[email protected] 

Today at 9:00 a.m. EDT, a group of community members and community-based healthcare providers demanded entry to Vernon C. Bain Center (VCBC, commonly referred to as “The Boat”) in order to assess and treat patients inside. Over the past 10 months, the Department of Corrections (DOC) and Correctional Health Services (CHS) have overseen 14 reported deaths and ongoing human rights violations in NYC jails. Urgent independent intervention is needed to save lives.

The activists, many donning white coats, brought medic bags filled with pens and paper, bandages, and personal protective equipment and carried signs demanding “Let Us In! Let Them Out!” and “Care, not Cages!”

“The ongoing mass murder of Black and Brown people under the supervision of authorities and doctors needs to stop,” said Dr. Mariya M., a family physician and supporter of Eyes on You. “Federal monitor reports, politician visits, and academic research have uncovered torture inside the jails, and yet nothing has changed. How many more have to die before this crisis is addressed?”

News reports have detailed people languishing for weeks or months without life-saving care. Basic needs have been denied to detained individuals, and stories document poor access to food, water, hygiene, and health care as well as increased exposure to interpersonal violence. Twenty months into the COVID-19 pandemic, infections continue to ravage the jail, and persistent infection risk is compounded by overcrowding. CHS leadership has already acknowledged that the agency is incapable of providing care under current conditions. Activists argued that CHS leadership and staff have been complacent in the face of these horrors and that their continued presence in the jails in the face of blatant human rights violations legitimizes and upholds one of the most dangerous jail systems in the entire world.

“Ultimately, jails and prisons are not and can never be places of healing. Health workers are here to demand that these facilities be closed completely, permanently, and responsibly so that collective care can be provided in the communities in which people live and so that we can start meaningfully addressing the harm that incarceration has inflicted,” said Jess Ho, a medical student who participated in the action.

“We are not looking for reforms,” said one of the members of The Eyes on You Committee, “our long term goal is to abolish the system as a whole. In the meantime, we’re looking for people to get released… as many as possible, and for people to be examined by independent doctors.”

This action has been organized by a concerned group of medical providers and Eyes on You, a committee dedicated to the liberation and protection of Black and Brown people through the abolition of white supremacist structures of policing, surveilance, and confinement.

Facebook Twitter Share

Mike Pappas

Mike is an activist and medical doctor working in New York City.

Labor Movement

Hear a Striking Minnesota Nurse Speak Out about the Exploitative Working Conditions Nurses Face

Below we share the text from a speech a striking nurse gave to others on strike in Minnesota. Those striking are fighting against hospitals and a healthcare system that continues to put profit over people’s lives.

Maryam Alaniz

September 14, 2022

Now More than Ever, the Working Class Needs Independent, Democratic Unions

Recently, discussions about unionization have become a national conversation. New workplaces are unionizing and the question of how to ensure their democratic functioning is the order of the day.

James Dennis Hoff

September 14, 2022
A crowd of about 100 workers and their allies, many of them dressed in SEIU purple, gather with signs in front of Columbia's Butler Library to demand bigger raises

SEIU Colludes with Columbia to Push Through Contract for Staff

The proposed contract would provide raises of only three percent per year, an effective pay cut. Workers are waging a “Vote No” campaign.

Olivia Wood

September 1, 2022

Fighting for Union Recognition and Quality Care: An Interview with a Madison, WI Nurse

Left Voice member and NYC healthcare worker Mike Pappas interviews a nurse from Madison, Wisconsin about his and his coworkers’ lengthy fight for union recognition. Nurses are currently preparing for a potential strike if the hospital continues to deny recognizing their union.

Left Voice

August 31, 2022


School bus with Land Back banner blocks roadway

Canadian Land Defenders Continue Struggle Against Illegal Developments

The long struggle of land defenders from Six Nations has entered a critical phase in the legal battle with a real estate development company building illegally on their land. The history of this recent struggle contains many important lessons for socialists and labor activists across the continent, especially working class solidarity with such movements.

Matthew Walters

September 30, 2022
Mourners weep over the dead body of Rayan Suleiman

Seven-Year-Old Rayan Suleiman Latest Victim of Israeli Occupation

Rayan Suleiman's death reveals the fear and terror under which Palestinian Children live in the occupied territories.

Luigi Morris

September 30, 2022

Tunisians Protest IMF-Led Austerity

Tunisians took to the streets this week against food shortages and price hikes on fuel. This comes as resistance to austerity is growing internationally.

Sam Carliner

September 30, 2022
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Elections in Brazil

In this episode of the podcast, we talk about the upcoming general elections in Brazil, including Bolsonaro’s legacy, what a Lula presidency would look like, and what the tasks are for the Left going forward.

Left Voice

September 27, 2022