Adams visits Rikers for first time as mayor to ‘show appreciation’ to corrections officers amid worsening NYC prison crisis – New York Daily News

Mayor Adams visited Rikers Island Friday for the first time since taking office amid an ongoing crisis at the prison that has prompted federal authorities to threaten to take over the ailing facility.

Adams, who has been in town hall for just over four months, did not allow reporters to join him for the Rikers’ visit, but town hall spokeswoman Kate Smart said the stay was to praising the correctional officers who guarded the besieged dungeon.

“He was there to say thank you and show his appreciation for correctional officers,” Smart said, noting that it’s National Correctional Officers and Employees Week.

A personnel crisis on Rikers – driven by a high rate of work stoppages – has exacerbated the chaos in the prison, with stabbings and other acts of violence skyrocketing. Sixteen incarcerated people died at Rikers last year, the highest number on record since 2013, and criminal justice activists have urged Adams to expand inmate services and crack down on sick leave abuse in the ranks of the Corrections department.

Adams took a different approach.

Weeks after he took office on Jan. 1, Louis Molina, Adams’ corrections commissioner, rolled back newly-implemented safeguards on the DOC’s sick leave policy that were meant to curb abuse, and also fired the department’s lead internal investigator.

During Friday’s trip, Adams did not meet with inmates or tour any facilities on the island, his spokeswoman said. The visit lasted less than an hour.

Joseph Russo, president of the Association of Assistant Managers and Deputy Managers, one of DOC’s unions, said Adams promised he would be back on Rikers soon.

“He said he’ll tour more with Rikers, we’ll see. He’s been very well received. We’re his supporters and we’re on his side,” Russo said. count on him to bring Rikers back.’ Corrections staff are fans of him and that came to fruition today.

The purpose of Adams’ visit has baffled inmate advocates.

“I think that sets the wrong tone,” Brooklyn Councilwoman Jennifer Guiterrez, a progressive Democrat, told the Daily News of Adams’ decision to only meet with officers. “What we’re talking about is the kind of resources that the most vulnerable need, which is the inmates.”

Guiterrez was speaking at a rally in City Hall Park on Friday morning organized by former inmates and their lawyers to renew calls for Rikers to be permanently closed. They were particularly focused on demanding the closure of the Rose M. Singer Center, which houses inmates in heartbreaking conditions according to critics.

“Nothing has changed,” said Kelly Breim, a former Rikers inmate incarcerated on the island in the 1990s.

The chaos over Rikers prompted federal prosecutors last month to file court documents threatening to wrest control of the prison from the city, citing an alleged lack of urgency by the Molina department to address a host of issues. in jail.

Adams’ first visit to the Rikers comes much earlier in his tenure than former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s, which didn’t come until nearly a year into his term.

The former mayor has received praise from advocates for rolling out a plan to permanently close Rikers by 2027.

Adams pledged to implement this plan, but also expressed reservations about the placement of some of the borough-based satellite prisons that would replace Rikers under the plan.

During last year’s mayoral campaign, Adams said he would not support the plan’s proposal to locate one of the new prisons in Manhattan’s Chinatown. “I think we’ve let the Chinatown community down enough,” he said at a mayoral candidates forum in April 2021.

Regarding day-to-day operations at Rikers, Adams’ latest budget plan released last month proposes hiring more than 500 new corrections officers.

He says the increase in staff is necessary to keep the detainees safe, but many council members have pleaded to disagree.

“It was also recommended that you work with the staff you have,” Councilwoman Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan), who chairs the council’s criminal justice committee, told Molina at a recent hearing.

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