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Correction officers rally after string of attacks at Rikers Island

NEW YORK — The Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association will hold a rally Thursday calling for a change following a string of attacks on jail guards at Rikers Island.

The latest attack was on a correction officer Wednesday. He was jumped and slashed in the face by multiple gang members at the Rikers Island jail facility.

He wants more protection for correction officers who fear their lives are on the line.

“When me and my partner are walking, it’s the two of us versus 50 gang members. They have nothing to lose,” said Officer Babinsky.

The officer sat down exclusively with PIX11 ahead of Thursday's rally to demand change, and question the effectiveness of NYC's plans for jails in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan to replace Rikers.

“In reality, bringing the same policies, the same inmates, the same officers, same staff, from one building to another, merely changing the location, I fail personally to see how that would change any of the violence and the issues that we have going on,” Babinsky said.

The Department of Correction released a statement Wednesday, stating in part: "Anyone involved will be re-arrested and placed in punitive segregation.”

Punitive segregation cannot be applied to inmates under 21 years old, but the man accused of attacking Babinsky is older and will likely face punitive segregation. When Babinsky was asked how he felt about this, he decried the age restriction.

"(Punitive segregation is) the one small tool we have to control these jails and to provide some kind of deterrence for these inmates to act up," Babinsky said.

COBA president Elias Husamudeen told PIX11 punitive segregation and other disciplinary sanctions are what is needed to make jails safer for correction officers.

Several other correction officers have been attacked by inmates recently.

One officer was attacked by three inmates. His ear was cut and his right hand was fractured. In another recent incident, an officer was beaten unconscious.

The union’s anger is directed toward the city and the mayor for not separating gang members behind bars.

“Give us punitive segregation and separate [gang members] from our cells,” Husamudeen said.

Thursday's rally is set to take place around noon outside City Hall.