De Blasio bears central blame for the horrors at Rikers

Spread the love


How did things get so bad, so fast, at Rikers Island? Disastrous mismanagement, with Mayor Bill de Blasio effectively egging the crisis on.

Not until corrections staff protested the terrifying working conditions at the Rikers jails in August did elected officials start visiting and the public realize the enormity of the crisis.

This week, The Post published photographs exposing the nightmare. The pics showed conditions at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center from July to September where hundreds of detainees languished for days and weeks, in violation of city regs requiring that new intakes be assigned housing within 24 hours. The filthy conditions harken back over a century, to jails and prisons before Rikers.

The no-bail law, other “reforms” and emergency releases during the pandemic shrank the inmate population to an all-time low, down more than half from just a few years ago — yet conditions at the 400-acre jail complex are worse than ever for inmates and guards.

Correction-officer morale took big hits pre-COVID, with their union chief caught engineering personal gains off their retirement funds and the city and state increasingly tying their hands when it comes to maintaining order. The complete ban on punitive solitary confinement, along with other softening of discipline rules, empowered the worst of the worst among the jail’s population.

rikers overcrowding
One thing “no picture can capture” is “the stench,” which is “the smell of death,” state Sen. Jessica Ramos said.

Meanwhile, de Blasio’s three correction commissioners have all been big-time “reformers” but unable to actually manage Rikers, let alone to find a constructive way to work with the guards and their union.

Then COVID hit, and correction officers (who by contract don’t have to justify absences) stopped reporting for duty in droves. Those left were stuck working triple and quadruple shifts — and management basically threw up its hands.

Now guards are injured almost daily, which encourages no one to show up for work. Basic maintenance has fallen apart, whether repairs to cell doors or cleaning up human waste.

When he finally visited Rikers after a 4½ -year absence, the mayor met only with the very leadership that the federal monitor overseeing Rikers said needed “outside expertise,” accused of “systemic mismanagement” and called “failing.” After that sitdown, de Blasio declared the efforts to improve conditions successful.

After embracing the idea of replacing Rikers, the mayor ignored it. He’s managed to reduce the population (as his new-jails plan requires) . . . but otherwise plainly decided to let the existing jail rot in the meantime.

Was it a strategy to build support for his plan? With this mayor, sheer incompetence is always the most likely explanation.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.