Federal monitor suggests outside help with security at Rikers Island

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Rikers Island jail complex

Rikers Island jail complex

NEW YORK — A federal monitor submitted a letter asking for a judge to request outside help in overseeing security on Rikers Island.

The move comes as a judge is set to hold an emergency hearing Friday morning about conditions at the notorious jail complex.

In the letter, Monitor Steve Martin said Rikers is undergoing a crisis of leadership and he thinks the Department Correction is incapable of providing the proper security and conditions for inmates and staff.

“We are gravely concerned,” Martin wrote in the letter. “The department has, thus far, failed to effectively address the unsafe conditions that are posing an imminent risk of harm to those in custody and department staff,” he continued.

The monitor said the city and DOC’s plans for Rikers do not address the “ubiquitous mismanagement and prevalent security failures within the jails.”

The monitor is asking the court to consider appointing an external security manager with experience handling correctional security.

“The security operations manager must have the authority to develop and implement the department’s security protocols,” Martin wrote.

The monitor also recommended that the DOC must develop a new interim security plan, in conjunction with the monitor, that addresses how various security breaches will be addressed.

So far this year, 11 inmates have died in DOC custody, a spokesperson told PIX11 Wednesday. A 12th inmate who died while at the hospital had been granted compassionate release by the court between his hospitalization and his death.

Members of New York’s Congressional delegation on Tuesday called for the release of inmates on Rikers Island over “deplorable” conditions that have come to the forefront of local politics in the last several weeks.

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