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
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 13: Aerial view of Rikers Island. (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
A corrections officers walks through the Enhanced Supervision Housing Unit at the Rikers Island Correctional facility in New York March 12, 2015. New York City is proposing to reduce violence among inmates at its troubled Rikers Island jail by limiting visitors, adding security cameras and separating rival gangs, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS)
A view from a jail cell in the Enhanced Supervision Housing Unit at the Rikers Island Correctional facility in New York March 12, 2015. New York City is proposing to reduce violence among inmates at its troubled Rikers Island jail by limiting visitors, adding security cameras and separating rival gangs, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS)
A view from the Enhanced Supervision Housing Unit at the Rikers Island Correctional facility in New York March 12, 2015. New York City is proposing to reduce violence among inmates at its troubled Rikers Island jail by limiting visitors, adding security cameras and separating rival gangs, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS)
QUEENS, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 25: A view of Rikers Island, New York City's jail, is seen from a flight leaving LaGuardia Airport on Christmas morning, December 25, 2016. Most New Yorkers are denied access to the island, but frequently see it when leaving or arriving on flights from adjacent LaGuardia Airport in Queens. (Photo by ANdrew Lichtenstein/Corbis 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)
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 - 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)
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)
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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