Mentally Ill Inmate Denied Meds, Dies, Covered In Feces, After 7-Days In Rikers Island Cell

Bradley Ballard
Photo: Curtis Griffin This 1990 photo provided by Curtis Griffin of his step-son Bradley Ballard shows Ballard in Houston when he was 16.


*Chalk this up to extremely poor staff training.

In a shameful display of mere disregard for human life,  and extremely poor staff training, a 39-year-old mentally ill inmate, who had made lewd gestures to a female guard, and was locked in solitary confinement for seven increasingly agitated days, died an unnecessarily gruesome death.

This, according to the Associated Press.

Bradley Ballard, who was virtually ignored by the guards who walked by him each day, glancing as they passed the steel door – which he sometimes urinated through, yet refusing to check on him, or provide him his meds, was eventually found naked on the floor, unresponsive and covered in his own feces.

Monitors show that during the time of his incarceration, guards passed by the steel door of Ballard’s cell, some even covering their noses from the stench, but never venturing inside…until it was too late.

“He didn’t have to leave this world like that. They could have put him in a mental hospital, got him some treatment,” Ballard’s mother, Beverly Ann Griffin, said from her Houston, Texas, home. “He was a caring young man.”

The AP learned about Ballards September 2013 death through documents they obtained and interviews given based on anonymity, five months prior to the death of another inmate, who had been left in a cell that gradually reached fatal heat levels of 101 degrees due to malfunctioning equipment.

Experts say Ballard’s death is only the latest example of how poorly equipped the city’s jail system is to handle the mentally ill, who make up about 40 percent of the 12,000 inmates in the nation’s most populous city. A third of those inmates suffer from serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

In Ballard’s case, his family said, he was diagnosed as schizophrenic more than a decade ago, and he also had diabetes.

The reforms promised at Rikers by Mayor Bill de Blasio are way overdue and criticism continues to rise over the prisons’ poor conditions. Correction Department spokesman Robin Campbell said in a statement Wednesday that Ballard’s case is under investigation. He said mental health and jail officials have started shift-by-shift briefings on inmates like Ballard and are working on other measures “so that a similar tragedy will not happen again.”

More tests are needed to determine exactly how Ballard died, the medical examiner’s office says. But preliminary findings show that he probably succumbed to sepsis, an infection that has spread through the body, according to the two officials.

Ballard grew up in Houston and moved to New York to pursue a better life after working as a cook at a fried chicken restaurant, his family said. He spent six years behind bars after being arrested in 2004 for assaulting a receptionist and another employee of a New York law firm.

Last June, he was arrested in Houston on charges of public lewdness and assault for punching and exposing himself to a bus driver. He was sent back to jail in New York for not telling his parole officer that he’d left the city.

He was first placed in a Rikers facility for 17 days, then a Correction Department psychiatric hospital for 38 days. Then he was sent to a roughly 30-bed mental observation unit at Rikers.

In documents obtained by the AP via a public records request, Cathy Potler, executive director of the city Board of Correction, gave her account of Ballard’s case, based on a review of records, security footage and interviews with inmates.

She noted that even though Ballard was in a unit where inmates are ordinarily allowed in and out of their cells to mingle with others for 14 hours a day, he was locked up continuously for seven days and for most of that time wasn’t given his medication. The type of medication was not disclosed.

Read more about this at




One thought on “Mentally Ill Inmate Denied Meds, Dies, Covered In Feces, After 7-Days In Rikers Island Cell”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *