Over the past week, Ramsey has been housed at the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill New York. He has not been able to be on the phone in the same way that he was at Rikers, so I don't hear from him as much, maybe 5 minutes a day. From my understanding he is not able to pay for his phone calls from his commissary yet, either it has not been set up or the jail has not cleared processing and is not on his account yet. He has not expressed any additional concern regarding the food that he's been provided or his general safety.
Although Ramsey does not have a sentence exceeding seven years, he might be at the Downstate facility for anywhere up to six months because of him being classified as 'high profile.' Until then, we have no idea where he is headed or exactly how long he will be in Downstate. To say anything else would be pure speculation.
If you would like to write Ramsey at his new facility to let him know that he's not forgotten and that he still has support, the address is as follows:
Ramsey Orta - 16A4200
Downstate Correctional Facility
121 Red Schoolhouse Road
Fishkill, New York 12524-0445
Donations to Ramsey must be sent on a postal money order and made out the same way. It must be a postal money order. Any other money orders will not be accepted. You can also donate to his PayPal by going to the donations page. He will start accepting donations of packaged foods via a P.O. Box in the near future. That information will be made available soon.
Ramsey will qualify for visits on October 30th. The visits are everyday from 8:30am - 3:15pm. The jail does not process visitors between 11:15am - 12:45pm. So if you arrive during that time you will have to sit and wait until processing resumes.
Ramsey is aware of the situation regarding Pantaleo possibly being charged for the murder of Eric Garner. Whether or not this will result in him being pardoned is something that we do not know as of yet.
Ramsey was able to call for a brief 4 minutes this evening. He's been transferred, temporarily, to Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill New York. He's about 2 1/2 hours away from Manhattan, and the transportation options to the facility seem slim.
He seemed to be in pretty good spirits and gave in easily when the guards told him he'd only be getting a couple minutes on the phone and said thank you to everyone for all the help making sure he would have money to eat while in Rikers. He has $750.00 in surcharges associated with the charges he's been convicted of, but the money that was in his commissary won't make it to his new facility for at least 6 weeks. This means he has no money for commissary until that is transferred to him, and even then it would only be what is left over after the $750 is deducted.
There are only two ways to donate to Ramsey throughout his stay at this particular facility. Postal money orders need to be sent directly to the jail so the only online option to donate would be via his PayPal. That information can be found here. If you send a money order, please keep the receipt and message email OrtaRamsey@gmail.com with a copy of the receipt. This way we can keep track of how much he is supposed to have in his account.
As far as visits go, he can have them every day starting on the 29th. The hours are from 8:30 - 3:15 pm but there is no processing from 11:15 - 12:45 pm. I'm assuming it's good to show up early to make sure you'd get a visit after travelling a couple of hours. He doesn't know exactly when he will be able to call but he only has a limited amount of phone numbers he can put on an approved list, so it will possibly be only family and close friends on the list. It does seem as if he won't have the same access to phones as he did in Rikers. From what I understand he will only have access to the phones twice a day for half an hour each call. If you're going to put money on your phone go to Connect Network.
There are several inmates at Rikers Island who have been waiting to be transferred to their receiving prisons for months, but after Deputy Warden Rene yelled at Ramsey hysterically (audio below) while putting her hands in his face and scratching him with the red pen she held in her hand, Rikers seemed to be able to get his paperwork together to transfer him in record time.
Although guards had offered to let Ramsey make a statement, Ramsey informed me that no one returned to take an official one from him or the many witnesses who were present and who had to intervene to keep Deputy Warden Rene's attacks from worsening in their severity. After the first call disconnects, Ramsey was able to call back to describe the incident (audio below). The entire time, you can hear the Deputy arguing in the background. The entire thing sounds like an out of control high school fight scene. It's scarier though because these are the people who are charged with the safety of our loved ones when they are housed on Rikers Island for whatever reason.
It calls into question the standards that Rikers guards, and especially the warden, are held to. Is it acceptable for the guards to assault inmates? How similar is Rikers Island to the Stanford Prison Experiment with little oversite of guards and less protection for inmates?
Ramsey called back and said that there was a guard who stood between Rene and himself, and that there were several people who saw the scratches and pen marks on his face. In the moment, the adrenaline must have caused Ramsey to not be able to feel it. So it turns out that he wasn't just verbally assaulted, that she also physically caused him physical injury without cause. Which is why Ramsey speculates that his transfer has been pushed through so quickly.
At about 5:30 am, I received a call from Ramsey saying that he is being transferred and that he hopes Rikers guards don't try to steal his wedding ring. That he's trying to send out the last of his mail to me and he hopes they don't toss his books that have been sent to him. He's concerned about his shoes and watch that are also still in Rikers custody.
He is also afraid that some guards will maliciously enter his information incorrectly and that his money that is on his commissary won't follow him or that he will be lost in the system. There are just so many uncertainties and limitations on options to rectify them. He is anxious, but he's also expressed some relief at being transferred. He says that now he may be offered programs to keep him busy and possibly reduce the time he has to serve.
As of now, Ramsey is probably not completely processed out of Rikers Island and will likely not show up in the system for hours. When he is processed, his contact information will be updated on this site. Until then, feel free to file complaints regarding the safety of all the inmates at Rikers when this is the level of professionalism and restraint that is acceptable on behalf of the correctional officers that work there.
Ramsey sends his sincere thanks to all who have donated to help him maintain access to clean food while at Rikers, for the letters and support to his family. He hopes that people will not forget about him and will continue to check in on him as he continues on his journey of four years in prison.
Rikers Island has a rather extensive visiting process. After about three hours of metal detectors and searches, I was finally in a cafeteria style room with long wooden tables. The tables had a small glass divider in the middle to keep the inmates separated from their visitors. Shortly after that I saw Ramsey come from behind a heavy door and scan the room looking for me.
He looked good, I would even go as far as to say there was a glow to him. I immediately felt relieved to see him looking like being in Rikers hadn't started to weigh on him horribly. Seeing him also eased the inevitable irritation that comes with such an elongated and redundant process to search visitors. Ramsey told me about the guard named Gonzalez that has damaged her badge in a way that her badge number cannot be seen. He said he has wanted to file paperwork about her but doesn't have a badge number to complete the paperwork, all he can see is a 27 and several empty spaces.
Because of the donations to his commissary he has been able to eat, but he still has not been able to see the Rabbi. Even though that was a recommended course of action from guards, it is not a request that has been met as of yet. This means he is still 100% dependent on his commissary to eat food that has prepackaged before it reached the jail and made accessible to inmates. However, today was an example on how that can backfire. There was a fight between two inmates, the entire unit was put on lock down and Ramsey wasn't allowed to access the hot water to cook his oatmeal or noodles.
He has received mail from several people as well as a few books. He's reading them and sending them home because he's expecting to get sent upstate soon and won't be allowed to take his mail with him. He says please don't stop writing him though. He is reading the mail and he is planning on writing people back, he just doesn't want to lose all the letters.
Over all, the only thing that was extremely painful was the long process to get the visit started and saying goodbye and seeing him walk back behind that metal door. The guards weren't assholes, they were very nice as I fumbled through and they definitely got me out of there faster than it took to get in. Keep writing Ramsey, all the support he is receiving is helping him keep his head up. Thank you to all.
Ramsey called again this morning and asked me about the Jpay account. It hasn't been the 24 - 48 hours that it would take to fix the issue and so there was no real surprise when the account was still blocked. He then said that he was supposed to be able to put his order in last night and get his food today but the guard just showed up with the order sheets at about 2:40 pm and notified everyone housed with Ramsey that they would not be receiving their orders until tomorrow at the earliest. This means Ramsey will not be able to eat dinner tonight or breakfast tomorrow, and even then we can only hope they will get his commissary to him without issue before tomorrow evening.
Regardless of all of our efforts to make sure he has enough in his account to order food for the week, he still hasn't been able to order anything. If it's not one obstacle blocking access to food for him at Rikers, it seems to be another. Unfortunately, all we can do is call to complain while sitting and waiting for news from Ramsey with his next call.
It was at that point that Ramsey read off the list of items available to them off of the commissary sheet (below). Of the food items available to Ramsey, it seems like soup, corn cookies, coffee and oatmeal are what he has to really survive off of. He says that the limited selection of items is unique to the building he is housed in only and that it is missing items like rice and salmon flakes that are available at other buildings on the island.
Ramsey contends that he does not trust unsolicited information from government entities or the police and that we should continue to report to the 311 number and to the jail directly so they continue to know that Ramsey has support and that it isn't easy to sweep him under the carpet. I am a firm believer that we all should have as much information as possible, especially if there is an emergency considering his special circumstances, specifically the rat poison that was found in his food when he last at Rikers. This contact information of 311 has proven effective so I do not suggest tossing this information at all. For those who have expressed that they cannot donate but would like to find ways to help Ramsey, contacting everyone in concern for his well-being is a huge help.
After talking to Ramsey this morning, there was an email from the Board of Corrections. This email was to inform all of Ramsey's supporters of the correct way to submit a complaint about the things that Ramsey has experienced while housed at Rikers, and in the event that something else happens while he is serving out his sentence. This is a sign that all the support has indeed been effective, so thank you again to everyone who has taken the time to make a complaint online or over the phone.
The information is in the photo but I will quote it here for easier access to the information it contains:
I came across your site this afternoon, linked from an article. I wanted to send you updated Board of Correction contact information so that if your readers do want to contact us, they have the correct information.
Our Chairman is Stanley Brenzoff. The agency's address:
1 Center Street, Room 2213
New York, NY 10007
Additional information on how to file a complaint is available on our website: Click Here to be taken to website
You may also want to double-check the contact information you have for the Department of Correction - Click here to be taken to website They have moved from Hudson Street and have a new Commissioner. "
I told Ramsey that everyone likes hearing his voice. Not only is it comforting in general, but especially after being so sick while in the hands of Rikers correctional officers and medical staff. This is a special thanks to all who stayed up last night calling in to check on his well-being, filing complaints and offering emotional support. There's also a message to the We Copwatch family.
Ramsey said when he was seen in medical that the doctor was noticeably upset that Ramsey was back down in medical to be reassessed and that she then proceeded to see two other inmates while making him wait again. Because the cramping had started to subside by then, he decided to go back to his housing unit. I told him not to leave again but Ramsey expressed extreme distrust in the medical staff. This is very frustrating and understandable and something we all kind of just have to deal with until he is transferred. Until then, we can all rest assured that he's alright for the moment. Whatever bug he seemed to catch is likely passing through his system. He not only says he feels better, he also sounds like it.
Speaking of the transfer complaints, Ramsey said that he doesn't want to keep requesting a transfer because they're going to send him to another facility that's associated with Rikers where he won't have the same internal social network that he is comfortable with like he does where he's housed at, well at least among the inmates. He said that him staying put until he is transferred to the prison that he's serving out the bulk of his sentence is the best possible thing that could happen for him.
However, we all know about the rat poison incident and him being sick does not help calm any suspicions about the quality of the food that is being fed to Ramsey while in custody. Coincidentally, after an online attack was launched on me (Bella), my account was blocked stopping my ability to transfer funds to Ramsey's commissary account. This is in the process of being rectified, but I was informed by Jpay customer service agents that this process would take 24 - 48 hours. This is more than unfortunate because Ramsey is supposed to go to commissary tomorrow to purchase the food he needs to sustain himself throughout the week. So, if he does't have money in his account tonight, he wont be able to eat for a week. This is possibly the most important part of today's update and any help by people who are able to donate directly to his commissary would be greatly appreciated. Click here to find information on how to donate to Ramsey's commissary account.
Although food is an issue for Ramsey, it is not the only one. He said that everyone woke up this morning freezing. That there is no heat in the building and that the guards won't compensate for the cold by giving them blankets or another layer of clothing. He said that he was actually wearing a towel wrapped around his head because it was so cold. When requesting that heat be turned on, guards told various prisoners that the temperature wasn't low enough despite how it felt inside the jail. Ramsey indicated that this wouldn't have been a problem had he been allowed to keep the clothes that he came in with instead of having to wear a jail uniform.
Other than that, Ramsey encourages people to write as well as visit him while he as Rikers and always reiterates that I thank you all sincerely for your support.
This morning before Ramsey began to get noticeably sick, he wanted to relay a thank you when I told him that there had been a response to his request to no longer organize with Lisa Mercado. So to all that have been in Ramsey's corner during this ordeal, here is a thank you. Please listen.
At approximately 2:45 pm, Ramsey called and said he had been feeling stomach pains all morning and that he had started vomiting. He's on his way to medical right now. All we know is that he ate oatmeal from commissary even though he used tap water at Rikers to make it. Thinking back, Ramsey had indicated that the water was brown, so it could very well be that. Then he used "a few drops" of soy milk. I'm unclear on if the soy milk came from commissary, although I'm guessing not. He said there was no blood in his vomit and that his pain is under his left rib cage but that it started more towards the center of his stomach. I'm waiting on any updates I can get from Rikers or Ramsey himself.
3:16 pm - I contacted the North Infirmary Command looking for Ramsey's location and to check on his well-being. I can hear the guard on the radio asking around to try and find him, over a radio possibly. The guard says this is not the right location and is transferring me to the OBCC to see where he is and if he's alright.
3:18 pm - Transferred to the OBCC. I was told that he's fine and he's not in medical. At this point that is all the information I have.
5:22 pm - Ramsey has called and said that he was taken to medical and they just took his temperature. They didn't ask him what was wrong, they had him waiting while he was throwing up blood because they were looking after another inmate with a rash. Although there were apparently other doctors & nurses present, they had not yet started their shift and did not express any interest in helping Ramsey. They didn't give him any test to see what was wrong. Not a urinalysis or anything. He said that the pain is still there. He has been transported back to the OBCC and he said he's been sitting there throwing up in front of the guards faces and they aren't doing anything. "Like I got a bucket full of throw up." is what he just said. He wishes he was home or at least not at Rikers.
5:39 pm - He called back and said it's like 'I'm throwing up acid and blood.' He sounds tired or weak and says his head hurts from being sick. Said he came back from medical and his food from commissary was thrown all over his bed sloppily and tossed his cell. Reason for search: "SST" which means 'special search team' with dogs and everything. They have only given him one letter and his commissary, so I can't figure out why that extra attention.
7:24 pm - Ramsey has not called and there is about 1 hour and 10 minutes left before the phones are shut down for the evening. Calling the jail to get whatever status update is available now, I am being told that there is not a note yet, however there is a referral. So I have to assume they haven't seen him as of yet. Upon my initial call, I was told to check back in two hours. It has only been one hour since then so I didn't fully expect an update at this time however I will keep checking. Anyone who is concerned about Ramsey can do the same if they wish.
- Ron Hughes (347) 774 - 7000
Every time I speak to someone I am told that they have received a number of calls about Mr. Orta. Thank you to everyone for showing your concern and support.
8:20 pm - I was informed that Ramsey had been taken to medical and seen by someone. That's at least a little more comforting than knowing he hadn't been seen yet. Whether or not he is alright is not information that they would divulge to me over the phone. Unless Ramsey calls at this point, there is no confirming the state of his health.
"The City investigates complaints about City jail conditions, physical danger or threats to inmates, and health and mental health care in jails."
Rikers Island has been described by some as "the worst place on Earth."
Since it was established in 1932, it has become a place notorious for violence within the walls -- where inmates attack inmates, inmates attack correction officers, and correction officers attack inmates. - Pix 11
"But Rikers never had a pristine moment, even at the start. Before the facility opened, inspectors warned of health hazards occasioned by, among other things, “dump fires,” and the problems that had plagued Blackwell’s — drug use, corrupt correction officers, violence, squalor, gang consolidation — moved upriver almost immediately, and have stubbornly stayed ever since." - NY Mag
"It wasn't exactly a secret that Rikers Island is a dangerous place, but the Justice Department's investigation showed just how violent it can be. It found that brutality by guards is routine, inmate-on-inmate violence is tolerated and major injuries are commonplace." - NPR
Ramsey Orta is a citizen turned journalist/activist when filming the murder of Eric Garner by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in 2014 on Staten Island. Ramsey will serve four years starting 10/3/2016. Ramsey has worked with We Copwatch doing Know Your Rights training's and spoken on several panels across the US in regards to filming the police.