Behind the Violence at Rikers, Decades of Mismanagement and Dysfunction
The New York Times
For years, New York City officials have presided over shortcuts and blunders that have led to chaos in one of America’s most expensive jail complexes.
The leaders of the New York City Department of Correction had already lost control over Rikers Island this fall when they went in search of one small measure of relief.
They needed 19 correction officers whom they had posted at the Queens criminal courthouse to fill in at the massive jail complex, where staffing was short, slashings and stabbings were up and detainees had gained control over some housing units. It was Columbus Day, a holiday, and the workload at the Queens courthouse was comparatively light.
But when the bus to Rikers arrived at the courthouse, many of the guards refused to board it. Instead, according to interviews, they claimed the onset of sudden illness. Seven of them dialed 911, complaining of chest pain, leg injuries, lightheadedness and palpitations. One produced a cane as proof of disability. More than a dozen officers left in ambulances. Rikers remained understaffed.
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