NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Activists, family members and formerly incarcerated residents are gathering on Saturday to call for reform at Rikers Island jails.

Protest organizers said the reports of abuse, neglect, corruption and deaths within the walls of Rikers have barely scratched the surface of the violence against inmates.

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“People are noticing and I think the city is responding in some ways to what’s going on at Rikers,” Paul Funkhouser, organizer of the Resist Rikers Rally, told 1010 WINS. “So we see it as an important moment to apply pressure to the city.”

Despite a recent change by the city that no longer allows solitary confinement for juveniles, Funkhouser and other activists believe no youths should be jailed at Rikers and that the practice should be banned for all inmates.

“Solitary confinement is an inhumane practice and that nobody should be subject to it — that we need to come together as a society and find real solutions to these problems and not just lock people away and throw away the key,” Funkhouser said.

The rally comes on the heals of a Department of Investigations probe that showed contraband was getting into the facility, 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported.

William, a former inmate, said that’s the least of the problems.

“At least two inmate who were incarcerated here at Rikers Island died while they were in solitary confinement,” he said.

Ralliers are also calling for better treatment for mentally ill inmates and that a community board take over the grievance process, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

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“If you really want to figure out how to make this prison better, talk to people who have been in there,” Cecily McMillan said, who was convicted of assaulting a police officer during Occupy Wall Street.

Meanwhile, a Daily News editorial has called for the city’s Department of Corrections Commissioner Joe Ponte to step down, 1010 WINS reported. Ponte only took over the job in April of this year.

Mayor Bill de blasio responded to the editorial during a visit to Puerto Rico on Saturday where he is meeting with Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla.

“Joe Ponte put more in place immediately. He’s going to add drug-sniffing dogs, he’s going to add additional screenings, he’s going to bring in new and independent screeners. That’s exactly what we want our public servants to do, act aggressively. So he is absolutely part of the solution and I think he deserves our respect for taking on such a difficult role.

“He instituted for the first time the process whereby corrections officers had to be screened going into the facility. Joe Ponte did that. There was no screening before, which is why so much contraband and weapons was getting through.”

The protest began at 3 p.m. at the entrance to the Rikers facility at 19th Avenue and Hazen Street in East Elmhurst, Queens.

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