NYC mayoral candidates address crisis at Rikers Island

Local News

NEW YORK — Amid the ongoing crisis on Rikers Island, PIX11 News checked in with the leading mayoral candidates to hear their ideas to reform the city’s jail.

Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa believes “Rikers Island, in addition to policing, is the number one issue.”

Sliwa told PIX11, as mayor he would spend time living in the warden’s house on Rikers, move people with mental health concerns to state-run hospitals and restore solitary confinement. 

“If you have inmates who are a danger to other inmates and correctional officers, they have to be locked up 23 hours a day,” Sliwa shared. 

Democratic contender Eric Adams visited Rikers earlier this month. Adams wants to take a closer look at who’s being held on Rikers and why. 

“Too many people are being violated for petty offenses,” Adams said. “Let’s clear that out, then let’s look at people who have been there for a long time.”

Following his Rikers visit, Adams also called for a partnership with the Department of Justice to address gang-related violence inside the jail and more job and skill training programs. For Adams, another top priority is finding a new way to deal with some of the most violent inmates. 

“You can’t break the jaw of a correction officer and then go back to a population with other inmates who you are assaulting,” he said.

Adams and Sliwa both agreed there needs to be greater awareness around the safety risks for correction officers. 

“We need a better climate to protect those correction officers,” Adams said. “Those are law enforcement officers; we seem to disrespect them and don’t realize what they are going through.”

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