Inmate Gets Pregnant in Rikers, Sparking Investigation


Staff writer Graham Rayman also contributed reporting to this story.

Law enforcement officials are investigating how a female inmate got pregnant while being held at Rikers Island, the Voice has learned. After the pregnancy was discovered by a doctor, officials transferred the woman to a quarantined medical unit within the sprawling jail complex.

At the time she was transferred, two months ago, five corrections officers at the Rose M. Singer Center for women were also transferred to other facilities. Sources close to the situation say the man responsible was likely to have been a corrections officer.
Legally, there is no such thing as consensual sex in a correctional facility, and the case is being investigated as a rape.

“DOI and DOC are aware of the matter and it is being investigated,” Diane Struzzi, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Investigation, told the Voice.
The prisoner, who was housed at the 800-bed Rose M. Singer Center, worked the midnight shift as a suicide prevention aide. Given more freedom than regular prisoners, she patrolled the hallways between midnight and 7 a.m. The incidents occurred during the shift.

The sex was not forcible and the woman is not a minor, sources say.

Two months ago, the woman was transferred to the West facility, a small quarantine facility built to house people with communicable diseases, though special cases are also admitted. A jail doctor first identified the pregnancy and brought it to the attention of officials.

The Department of Corrections declined comment, citing policy prohibiting discussion of matters under investigation. “An allegation or possibility of such contact would be aggressively investigated and any staff person guilty of such contact would be subject not only to dismissal, but to prosecution as well.”

Though unlawful, it is not uncommon for prison guards to have relationships with inmates — late last year, the Department of Corrections brought a disciplinary action against a female guard that had talked with an inmate using her private cell phone more than 180 times and cohabited with the inmate after his release.

A 2003 class-action lawsuit brought by female prisoners in the New York State correctional system charged that sexual assault, forcible rape, and harassment by corrections staff was widespread. Oral arguments in the case were heard by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last June, and a decision is pending.