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NYC jail boss details heating problems after death

March 27, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The head of New York City’s jail system says that a malfunctioning damper diverted heat to the upper-level cell where a mentally ill veteran was found dead last month.

Acting Department of Correction Commissioner Mark Cranston told a City Council committee Thursday that a gauge on the lower-level tier didn’t register the high temperature on the upper level.

An official told The Associated Press that 56-year-old homeless former Marine Jerome Murdough “basically baked to death” in a mental observation unit on Rikers Island.

Cranston also said fan belts on the unit’s roof were faulty.

Lawmakers questioned Cranston on Murdough’s death, the rising violence levels in city jails and the system’s increasingly mentally ill inmate population.

About 40 percent of New York City’s roughly 12,000 inmates are mentally ill.

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