NEW YORK (PIX11) — A judge could rule Thursday that a federal takeover of Rikers Island is needed to overhaul the detention complex, despite the protests of New York City leaders including Mayor Eric Adams.
In the ruling, the federal judge could maintain the status quo by maintaining federal monitoring of Rikers, or opt to go a step further by having a federal receiver take over the facility, which has been troubled by inmate deaths and violent attacks.
Adams has insisted that the city can manage the facility, resisting efforts to strip it from city control.
“Come on! Let’s run our city,” Adams said in a recent media briefing. “We don’t need the federal government to run our city. We can fix these problems.”
Adams said his administration has been working to right a decades-long debacle on Rikers Island for 11 months, and they need more time. However, the Legal Aid Society argues that time is up, with 16 inmates dying so far this year — not including another two men who died shortly after being granted compassionate release — and stabbings up 22%. The nonprofit filed a petition to a federal judge to institute a takeover, which it deems necessary for a complete overhaul.
However, Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina says new strides are being made.
“We are committed to reforming the jail system, so I think we are in a good place and we look forward to going to court,” Molina said.
Members of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association (COBA) union would argue that conditions at Rikers are as bad as ever. Recent assaults on officers led to excessive sick calls that have created a staffing and security crisis.
“That’s the reason why my members are out sick, on the mend, recovering from these injuries,” COBA President Benny Boscio said in a press conference last month.