How did issues get so dangerous, so quick, at Rikers Island? Disastrous mismanagement, with Mayor Bill de Blasio successfully egging the disaster on.
Not till corrections workers protested the terrifying working situations at the Rikers jails in August did elected officers begin visiting and the public notice the enormity of the disaster.
This week, The Post printed images exposing the nightmare. The pics confirmed situations at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center from July to September the place a whole bunch of detainees languished for days and weeks, in violation of metropolis regs requiring that new intakes be assigned housing inside 24 hours. The filthy situations harken again over a century, to jails and prisons earlier than Rikers.
The no-bail legislation, different “reforms” and emergency releases throughout the pandemic shrank the inmate inhabitants to an all-time low, down greater than half from just some years in the past — but situations at the 400-acre jail advanced are worse than ever for inmates and guards.
Correction-officer morale took large hits pre-COVID, with their union chief caught engineering private positive aspects off their retirement funds and the metropolis and state more and more tying their arms in relation to sustaining order. The full ban on punitive solitary confinement, together with different softening of self-discipline guidelines, empowered the worst of the worst amongst the jail’s inhabitants.
Meanwhile, de Blasio’s three correction commissioners have all been big-time “reformers” however unable to truly handle Rikers, not to mention to discover a constructive option to work with the guards and their union.
Then COVID hit, and correction officers (who by contract don’t must justify absences) stopped reporting for obligation in droves. Those left have been caught working triple and quadruple shifts — and administration mainly threw up its arms.
Now guards are injured virtually each day, which inspires nobody to indicate up for work. Basic upkeep has fallen aside, whether or not repairs to cell doorways or cleansing up human waste.
When he lastly visited Rikers after a 4½ -year absence, the mayor met solely with the very management that the federal monitor overseeing Rikers mentioned wanted “outside expertise,” accused of “systemic mismanagement” and known as “failing.” After that sitdown, de Blasio declared the efforts to enhance situations profitable.
After embracing the thought of changing Rikers, the mayor ignored it. He’s managed to cut back the inhabitants (as his new-jails plan requires) . . . however in any other case plainly determined to let the current jail rot in the meantime.
Was it a technique to construct help for his plan? With this mayor, sheer incompetence is at all times the most definitely clarification.