In the hot seat, state lawmakers grilled the commissioner for New York City jails about conditions at Rikers Island, all while activists nearby sounded off, calling the current state of the facility a humanitarian crisis.
Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi and other members of the mayor’s administration faced tough questions during a state assembly hearing.
Bronx Assemblyman Kenny Burgos wanted answers as to why 12 people have died this year in the city jail.
“It’s a mix of our inability to be staffed the way we should be and some natural-cause deaths,” Schiraldi said.
The president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Benny Boscio Jr., also explained that Rikers was not staffed properly and there were “unmanned posts” in the facility.
The Department of Correction wants to hire hundreds of new officers, but the agency has struggled to attract new recruits.
The commissioner called out officers who he believes are abusing their unlimited sick time.
“Some people, I think, are faking it, and those people who are faking it should be ashamed of themselves and they should get back to work,” Schiraldi said.
“We’re being assaulted with impunity and you want to know why my members out sick? Twenty-five plus hours working without meal breaks– and you want to know why people are out sick,” Boscio said.
Schiraldo told lawmakers he is urgently focused on making life better on Rikers Island for everyone.
He believes conditions would improve if the city court fully reopened sooner.
Currently, 90% of the people currently detained on Rikers Island are waiting to go to trial.