Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has emerged as an unlikely defender of Paul Manafort after news emerged that the latter is heading to one of America’s most notorious prisons.
The New York Times originally reported that Manafort might be sent to Rikers Island in New York and placed in “isolation” — which some have interpreted as solitary confinement — during his time in the prison.
Ocasio-Cortez says that Manafort and everybody else forced into solitary confinement should be released. (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez On Illegal Immigrants: ‘I Don’t Care If You’re Documented Or You’re Undocumented’)
“Paul Manafort is being sent to solitary confinement in my district — Rikers Island,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “A prison sentence is not a license for [government] torture and human rights violations. That‘s what solitary confinement is. Manafort should be released, along with all people being held in solitary.”
Paul Manafort is being sent to solitary confinement in my district – Rikers Island.
A prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations. That‘s what solitary confinement is.
Manafort should be released, along with all people being held in solitary. https://t.co/9rERLDSzrD
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 5, 2019
Rikers Island has been accused of being an abusive and unsafe environment, and a 2014 report from the Associated Press cited the environment as a factor in the deaths of 15 inmates in a five-year span, according to CBS New York. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio supported closing the facility in 2017, but no official action has been taken since then.
Manafort’s attorney Todd Blanche told NBC News Tuesday that he expects his client will be arraigned in New York next week, but reportedly said that he was not sure where Manafort will be held.
Manafort was sentenced to roughly 7.5 years in prison in separate cases in the Virginia and Washington, D.C., area related to consulting work he did with Ukraine. (RELATED: Mueller Reveals Few New Details In 800-Page Court Filing)
The long-time Republican strategist pleaded guilty to a variety of charges last year, including charges of conspiracy to launder money, acting as a foreign agent of Ukraine, and witness tampering.
Additionally, Manafort is still facing 16 felony charges in the state of New York including financial fraud and failing to register as a foreign agent.