Rikers Violence: Out Of Control

Shocking images back up what we've been reporting for years: New York City's jails are houses of horror

When allegations of problems in the incident reporting at RNDC were raised in December, Schriro immediately ordered an investigation.

"There is a zero-tolerance policy for fights," she says. "Every one of those incidents is now classified as a fight, and every inmate is infracted for it."

And she said more than 1,100 cells have been repainted at RNDC, and the floor has been repaired, along with other improvements, including fire alarms, ventilation, and lighting.

Rikers Island: The Correction Department claims that violence is under control, but insiders say things are actually getting worse.
Wikipedia; Cdogsimmons
Rikers Island: The Correction Department claims that violence is under control, but insiders say things are actually getting worse.
Following a fight in April 2011, adult and teen inmates file out of the jail’s barbershop. Correction sources say it’s a no-no to allow adults and teens to mix.
Following a fight in April 2011, adult and teen inmates file out of the jail’s barbershop. Correction sources say it’s a no-no to allow adults and teens to mix.

Finally, she denies that the gang-intelligence unit has been hamstrung by budget cuts and new duties. "Phone monitoring of inmates has not been stopped," she says.

A Correction source says that just because no direct evidence of guard complicity has been uncovered, that doesn't mean they aren't condoning the practice. "You would have to be a moron to see two kids on a table and 25 on the floor and not know that's the Program. If you see 300 kids in the yard, but it's the same 10 kids playing basketball every day, that's the Program. If you see one kid on the phone all day long, that's the Program. You may not be telling them what to do, but you're letting it happen."

"The blatancy of the conduct that's being reported indicates that it couldn't happen without either the active or passive complicity of staff," jails expert and Legal Aid lawyer John Boston says. "One of the things we often hear is that the officer was in the bubble. To what extent this phenomenon is active collaboration and what represents turning a blind eye, we don't know. But it has to be one or the other."

"Rikers Island facilities are short staffed," Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley says. "Unless the Bloomberg administration addresses staffing needs and hires more Correction officers, violence is going to continue to rise with more and more inmates and Correction officers getting seriously injured."

grayman@villagevoice.com

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