Man held at Rikers Island for two years without charges

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Man Held In Rikers Jail For 2 Years Without Charges

New York City awarded a $1 million settlement to a man who spent two years in jail without being charged with a crime.

Police put Russell Hernandez behind bars on Rikers Island in 2006 to make sure he testified against two gang members who robbed and beat him in 2004... but he never got the chance to testify at a trial *and* he spent more time in jail than his attackers.

The perpetrators ended up pleading guilty and received 5 years probation.

Hernandez told the New York Daily News that during his time on Rikers Island he wrote letters to multiple elected officials, including then U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and then-state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who was the only one to write back.

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Man held at Rikers Island for two years without charges
File-This June 20, 2014, file photo shows New York's biggest lockup, Riker's Island jail, with the New York skyline in the background. A New York City jail guard accused of ignoring the pleas of a dying mentally ill inmate at Rikers Island in 2012 is set to go on trial. Jury selection begins Monday in Manhattan federal court for Terrence Pendergrass, who is charged with violating the rights of 25-year-old Jason Echevarria. Authorities say Pendergrass ignored other guards’ warnings that Echevarria was in agonizing pain, vomiting and spitting up blood after ingesting a toxic soap ball. They say Pendergrass peered into Echevarria’s cell in a solitary confinement unit for mentally ill inmates before walking away. Pendergrass has pleaded not guilty. Echevarria’s father has filed a $20 million lawsuit. Rikers has come under increased scrutiny for the way mentally ill inmates are treated. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
Russell Hernandez, who got $1 million in a settlement, hold letter from Bronx DA thanking him for 'cooperation.' Hernandez, was held at Rikers Island for more than two years without ever being charged with a crime in order to force him to testify against two gang members who had robbed him. (Photo By: Howard Simmons/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
Russell Hernandez, who got $1 million in a settlement, hold letter from Bronx DA thanking him for 'cooperation.' Hernandez, was held at Rikers Island for more than two years without ever being charged with a crime in order to force him to testify against two gang members who had robbed him. (Photo By: Howard Simmons/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
A view of buildings at the Rikers Island penitentiary complex where IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is being held in New York on May 17, 2011. The grand jury deciding whether or not to send IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn to trial has until May 20th to decide. In the meantime, Strauss-Kahn, accused of attempting to rape a hotel maid, remains incarcerated without bail because a judge deemed him liable to attempt escape to France, which does not extradite citizens to the United States. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 13: Aerial view of Rikers Island. (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 24: Inmates at Rikers Island gather in a circle for a morning meeting on pride and self-esteem. Inmates, who refer to each other as 'teammates,' are in the High Impact Incarceration Program (HIIP)., (Photo by Susan Watts/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
FILE- This June 20, 2014 file photo shows the Rikers Island jail with the New York skyline in the background. Over the past five years, there have been three deaths in New York City's jails in which inmates were alleged to have been fatally beaten by guards. Yet in none of those cases was anyone ever charged with a crime. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
FILE - In this July 31, 2014 file photo, an inmate at Rikers Island juvenile detention facility carries a plastic fork behind his back as he walks with other inmates in single file to the jail's chapel for a visit from Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons and entertainer L.L. Cool J. The city's juvenile jails are extremely violent and unsafe, the result of a deeply ingrained culture of violence in which guards routinely violate constitutional rights of teenage inmates and subject them to "rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force," federal prosecutors said in a scathing report released Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
FILE - In this July 31, 2014 file photo, Rikers Island emergency services personnel walk through one of many gates inside the jail's juvenile detention facility in New York. The city’s juvenile jails are extremely violent and unsafe, the result of a deeply ingrained culture of violence in which guards routinely violate constitutional rights of teenage inmates and subject them to “rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force,” federal prosecutors said in a scathing report released Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
FILE - In this July 31, 2014 file photo, a Rikers Island juvenile detention facility officer stands watch during a visit to the jail by Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons and entertainer L.L. Cool J in New York. The city’s juvenile jails are extremely violent and unsafe, the result of a deeply ingrained culture of violence in which guards routinely violate constitutional rights of teenage inmates and subject them to “rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force,” federal prosecutors said in a scathing report released Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
FILE - This photo taken on Wednesday June 11, 2014, shows the eastern section of Rikers Island jail complex in the Queens borough of New York. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to announce his $130 million, four-year plan to overhaul how the nation’s most populous city deals with mentally ill and drug-addicted suspects, diverting many to treatment instead of jail. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
A view of buildings at the Rikers Island penitentiary complex where IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is being held in New York on May 17, 2011. The grand jury deciding whether or not to send IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn to trial has until May 20th to decide. In the meantime, Strauss-Kahn, accused of attempting to rape a hotel maid, remains incarcerated without bail because a judge deemed him liable to attempt escape to France, which does not extradite citizens to the United States. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 30: Aerial view of Rikers Island prison. (Photo by Charles Payne/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
An air view of Rikers Island, New York City's main jail complex and the name of the 413.17-acre island on which it sits, in the East River between Queens and the mainland Bronx in New York City, New York, 1955. (Photo by Flying Camera/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 22: Frank Costello (c.) is freed from Rikers Island and with him are his attorneys on his left Morris Shilensky, and his right is Edward Williams. (Photo by Seymour Wally/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 22: Frank Costello flanked by police detective is freed from Rikers Island. (Photo by Seymour Wally/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 25: Prisoners sit handcuffed on ground along hallway after riots at Rikers Island. (Photo by Leonard Jackson/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
FILE- In this Dec. 15, 1980 file photo, New York City's Rikers Island prison is seen from the air. City Correction Department spokesman Stephen Morello says that an inmate at the facility is ill with swine flu and went to a hospital in the borough of Queens although his condition is not serious. (AP Photo/David Pickoff, File)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 04: Rikers Island detainees drill in the courtyard of new 'Sprungs' area where 16 to 18-year-old detainees live and attend school while awaiting trials and sentencing. (Photo by Nicole Bengiveno/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
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He says Cuomo urged him to cooperate with the district attorney and talk with a lawyer.

"I sat in Rikers Island for two years and I wasn't accused of a crime. Nobody would believe me. The guards and the prisoners thought I was a spy or a snitch because when they looked me up on the computer there was no charge against me."

Another man went through a similar ordeal when he was just 17-years-old.

Kalief Browder was featured in The New Yorker after he was held for three years on Rikers Island. He was actually charged with stealing a backpack, but he was never convicted.


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