Justice for Mentally Ill Prison Inmate Who Died of Neglect


Target: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance

Goal: Lay charges against guards who reportedly neglected man for a week in solitary confinement, resulting in his death.

An inquiry into the case of a mentally ill man who died after allegedly being left in solitary confinement without his medication has revealed “gross negligence” on the part of corrections staff. Bradley Ballard, an inmate at New York’s Rikers Island Jail, was placed in solitary confinement after making a lewd gesture to a female prison guard. For six days, Ballard was reportedly denied medication for diabetes and schizophrenia and left without food or water.

In his poor mental state, Ballard resorted to self-harm. He clogged the cell’s toilet until it overflowed, stripped naked, and tied a piece of cloth around his genitals. During this frenzied breakdown, guards allegedly observed Ballard’s behavior but did not stop to intervene. Out of 57 recorded checks during the six-day period, the only time a guard took notice was when he sprayed an air freshener in the hallway to get rid of the scent of feces and infection coming from the cell.

On the seventh day, Ballard was reportedly found unresponsive on the floor, and was finally transported to a hospital with a serious infection, still naked and covered in feces. He died five hours later in hospital due to diabetic ketoacidosis, or when the body begins to produce acidic ketones in response to an insulin deficiency. The death was a direct result of Ballard being denied insulin, food, and water.

This is not the first time that Rikers Island correctional staff have been accused of wrongdoing. The prison has been the subject of several controversies in the past, including one in 2014 when an inmate died of heat stroke in a solitary confinement cell. Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised to work toward a reform of the Rikers Island system, and lay heavy charges against the negligent guards would be a good place to start. Sign the petition below to demand justice for Bradley Ballard.


Dear Mr. Vance,

An inquiry into the death of Bradley Ballard at Rikers Island prison has revealed gross negligence on the part of guards, who reportedly denied Ballard his medications, food, as well as mental health care. Guards allegedly did nothing while Ballard overflowed his cell’s toilet, undressed, and tied a piece of fabric around his genitals that would become horribly infected after being left for days in filthy conditions.

Ballard was allegedly ignored for six days before he became unresponsive and was finally transported to a hospital, where he died hours later of diabetes-related complications. Had guards followed procedure or even a single one exercised some compassion, it is likely that Ballard would still be alive today. We, the undersigned, demand that criminal charges are brought against the deplorably negligent corrections staff that dealt with Ballard.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: US Geological Survey via Public Domain

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