As public attention shifts, conditions at Rikers still in question

Local News

NEW YORK — Challenges on Rikers Island remain weeks after conditions at the jail facility made headlines and drew the attention of public officials.

“It was like a nightmare,” said Richard Foust, who was released earlier this month.

Kelsey De Avila of Brooklyn Defender Services said she has new concerns, too.

“What’s looming ahead of us really is Dec. 1. There is a vaccine mandate for uniform correctional officers. As of Tuesday, it was released that 63% have received at least one dose of the vaccine,” she said.

She said she worries that if unvaccinated correction officers are removed from the city’s payroll, more housing units will be left without guards, overstretching an already short staffed jail.

In recent months, the mayor and corrections commissioner have both called out correction officers for allegedly taking excessive sick days, saying their actions place fellow officers and inmates in danger. Earlier this week, a federal monitor appointed to oversee the city’s jails reported 119 jail staffers were suspended for not showing up to work.

Friday the president of the union representing correction officers pushed back.

“Correction officers have been assaulted in the last year…We are really going through it, so this notion that we’re out sick on purpose is just nonsense,” Benny Boscio Jr. said.

There have been some improvements: the city has reduced the time inmates spend in intake centers, as well as the number of unstaffed posts and triple shifts for officers, according to city leaders.

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