NEW YORK (PIX11) — On the heels of a severely critical Rikers Island federal monitor report. New York City Comptroller Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams toured the jail again Wednesday to offer a status update.
“And apologize for asking people to stand outside amidst the climate emergency,” said Lander.
The pair offered a mixed verdict.
“Compared to what we saw last visit, it’s even increased a little bit better. But there are still some things that are problematic, like the violence that you see here. Like the deaths. Like seemingly withholding information,” said Williams.
Lander and Williams then went into specifics, including what they described as the shackling of detainees to desks – on their hands and ankles.
“Things were surely calmer in some ways today – and that is a good thing. We did see multiple places where the practices that we saw do not comply with the rules set by the board of correction,” said Lander.
They also take issue with the Department of Correction’s decision to no longer make public notification of a detainee’s death while in custody.
It is important to note that DOC said it will still notify a detainee’s family and their attorney, and DOC Commissioner Louis Molina continues to support Mayor Eric Adams.
Still, the disclosure policy change outraged family members.
The correction officers’ union president, who crashed Wednesday’s news conference, is also outraged. While holding up a photo of an injured Rikers Correction officer, he demanded more attention be paid to the pressures he said his members face while on the job.
“Over 50 correction officers sexually assaulted! Give us the amount of staff that we need to effectively maintain safety and security. Raise consequences for actions that happen like this,” said COBA president Benny Boscia.
A DOC spokesperson told PIX11 News the Commissioner wants to balance transparency while respecting a detainee who has died in custody.
“All appropriate internal investigations and required notifications to oversight and outside agencies always take place immediately. The Commissioner believes in following the rules, and the department is in compliance with all rules and laws.” said the spokesperson.
Williams said Rikers overall remains a troubled facility that needs to close.
“The reason I continue to push for receivership now is we want to make sure that there’s a plan there to keep everyone safe and shutting Rikers down as soon as possible,” said Williams.