Report: Hip-hop artist in Rikers Island claims staffing shortage left two housing units without CO’s for more than 24 hours

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NEW YORK CITY, NY- According to reports, an inmate at Rikers Island stated that a staffing shortage at the jail left two housing units without correction officers for more than 24 hours on Tuesday, August 31st and Wednesday, September 1st. 

Terrance Ferguson, the hip-hop artist known as 2 Milly, said two Riker units, known as 3 West and 3 North in the Otis Bantum Correctional Center, were without correction officers through at least noon on September 1st, leaving inmates in the strange position of helping other inmates get to court transport and video conferences.

Ferguson, who is serving a sentence for gun possession, added:

“We are really running the dorm by ourselves. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

On Wednesday afternoon, September 1st, Ferguson said that there had been no officer on his floor since 6 a.m. Tuesday, August 31st. He added:

“I’ve been answering the phones.”

Reportedly, the two unmanned units house about 80 inmates combined. Department of Correction officials declined to comment on whether parts of Rikers have gone unguarded for longer than 24 hours, but the department has acknowledged a personnel shortage, which it has blamed on a large number of sick or unavailable staff.

In July, about 3,500 of Rikers’ 8,500 officers either called in sick or were medically exempt from working with detainees. Another 2,300 simply did not come in to work at some point during the month. Regarding the 24-hour gap reported by Ferguson, a department source said:

“These gaps are a regular occurrence and it’s a prime reason why officers are being attacked and inmates aren’t getting the services they need.”

According to reports, Rikers’ inmate population has roughly doubled since July 2019. The source added:

“You can’t expect the population to double with fewer people to provide those services and this not happen.”

In a statement on September 1st, the city’s Board of Correction noted that Rikers went without any suicides at all in 2018, 2019, and 2020 up to December. Since December 2020, five inmates have taken their own lives.

25-year-old Brandon Rodriguez hung himself in an intake cell in the Otis Bantum Center on August 10th. 57-year-old Segundo Guallpa was found dead by suicide in his cell at the North Infirmary Command on August 30th. 

3o-year-old William Diaz-Guzman hung himself on January 23rd. 48-year-old Tomas Carlo-Camacho died on March 2nd and Javier Velasco used a bedsheet to hang himself in his cell at the Anna M. Kross Center on March 19th. The board said:

“Five suicides in nine months along with an alarming increase in attempted self-harm signals a crisis for persons in custody and for the New York City Department of Correction.”

The board allegedly called on the city to move fast to improve conditions, nothing that absent or unavailable staff as “created unsafe conditions” for Rikers employees and detainees. However, the board did not offer any proposals on how to address the issues.

The board also called for a reduction in the jail population, seemingly ignoring that bail reform laws passed in 2020 and their impact on the increase in violent crime over the past year. The board said:

“As long as the population steadily rises and the staffing crisis continues, persons in custody and those who protect and work with them are in an impossible position.”

Department of Correction officials stated they plan to have a news conference to address the staffing and other issues. However, by the afternoon on September 1st, Ferguson said no additional staff had arrived in the units. He added:

“We’re still here right now, still answering the phone, still sending guys to court, sending to video court.”

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Report: 11 corrections officers suffer broken bones, cracked ribs, concussion in gang-related attacks at Rikers Island

March 27th, 2021

NEW YORK CITY, NY – Violence once again broke out at Rikers Island’s infamous Robert N. Davoren Complex Tuesday night when thirteen inmates attacked four corrections officers, causing broken bones and other injuries.

The attack is suspected to be gang-related because eleven of the attackers were members of the Bloods.

The attack against the four guards was the latest in five attacks at the jail this week, which left at least 11 officers injured. Riker’s Island has seen continuous violent assaults on guards in the last year.

All four officers injured in the Tuesday night attack were transported to Mount Sinai Queens Medical Center, where they were treated for their injuries. One reportedly suffered a broken hand, cracked ribs and other injuries after being struck with a fire extinguisher, according to an internal report obtained by the New York Daily News.

According to an internal report, the ambush began around 10:30 p.m. after a Bloods member identified as Nasir Greene somehow gained access to a security control room. Once inside, Greene was able to “buss” a door that allowed other inmates to enter the area.

The inmates attacked the four guards with what was described as “closed-fist punches” until a probe team was able to respond and end the assault.

The attack on the four guards followed a March 19 attack involving thirteen Bloods members, six of whom took part in Tuesday’s attack. The March 19 attack resulted in at least three guards being injured.

Another attack on March 20 occurred when five inmates (including four involved in the March 19 attack) broke free from officer escorts resulting in a fight. At least one officer was injured in the incident.

March 22, a Correction Officer suffered a concussion after Crips member David Young punched a guard on the right side of his head, according to an internal report. The blow sent the officer into a wall, where he hit the left side of his skull.

The officer was treated at Elmhurst Hospital, where he reportedly needed five staples to close a head wound. A second officer was also injured in the attack.

On Thursday, another officer was left injured following a fifth attack at the jail.

Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Benny Boscio Jr. blasted prison reforms implemented by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Corrections Department Commissioner Cynthia Brann, including a plan to end punitive segregation:

“Assaults on our officers have skyrocketed up by more than 23% over last year and instead of allowing us to separate violent offenders who commit attacks like this, this administration wants to eliminate punitive segregation completely so that assaultive inmates can be emboldened to terrorize our members and non-violent inmates.

“Commissioner Brann and Mayor de Blasio continue to condone these acts of violence and by doing nothing to stop these assaults, they are complicit.”

Corrections Department spokesman Peter Thorne issued a statement regarding the recent assaults:

“The safety of those who work in our facilities is always our first priority,” said Correction Department spokesman Peter Thorne. “Any attack is reprehensible, and we are pursuing re-arrest of the individuals involved.”

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Four NYC corrections officers brutally attacked by a Bloods gang member in Rikers Island jail

December 20, 2020

 

NEW YORK, NY – Four New York City corrections officers were taken to the hospital after they were allegedly attacked by a Bloods gang member at Rikers Island jail in New York.

According to the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President, the attack of the officers occurred on December 18 around 5:30 p.m.  The incident started when one of the guards was letting the inmate out of his cell. 

Association President Benny Boscio, Jr. said that was when the suspect allegedly attacked the guard. 

Boscio said that the inmate punched the guard in his face “fracturing his nose with blood everywhere.”

Three other guards who saw what happened rushed in to help and subdue the suspect after the attack.  Those guards allegedly suffered injuries themselves, including a broken finger and sprained wrists.  Boscio said:

“Last night, four dedicated NYC Correction Officers were sent to the hospital after being brutally assaulted by a gang member…This incident is just one of the countless assaults on our Correction Officers that have occurred recently. 

“Assaults on our officers are up 15 percent this year.  Instead of holding the assaultive inmates accountable for their crimes, Council Member Danny Dromm blames the victims of these assaults…He has failed our Correction Officers and his victim-blaming is a disgrace to the office he holds.  He must resign now!”

Boscio is demanding that New York City Councilman Danny Dromm, who has lobbied to reform and shut down the jail, immediately resign over his lack of support for corrections officers.  He believes that Dromm should be focusing on how to deal with the criminals instead of trying to give them more rights. 

Dromm is known for criticizing the jail stating that he has seen what he terms as abusive conditions.  He has also called for an end to solitary confinement for all jails within New York City.

On December 14, Dromm pushed forward a bill that is designed to end the use of solitary confinement in all of New York City jails.  Under his bill, criminals would only be allowed to be sent to solitary confinement for the purpose of defusing a situation and could not be isolated for any more than four hours.

The bill would also require the Department of Corrections to completely document all cases in which a criminal would be placed in solitary confinement.  That report would be made public so that anyone could view when and how often criminals are sent to solitary.

Dromm said that he has pushed this bill in order to create humane conditions for the criminals inside of all of the New York City jails.  He said:

“Solitary confinement is not just a violation of the basic human rights of the individual subjected to it.  It is a horrific practice whose negative impact reverberates throughout our entire society.”

Dromm claims that the use of solitary confinement does little good for the criminals that are subjected to it. He believes that the use of solitary only serves to make people more violent and adversely affects their mental health. 

Dromm claims that his bill has been produced after consulting with criminal justice experts; feedback from criminal justice reform activists; the opinion of social service providers, medical professionals, and others in government.  He said:

“History will not be kind to us if we turn back from the clarion call: Solitary confinement must end now…It has no place in our city, no place in our state, and no place in our country.”

The bill will be presented to lawmakers and voted upon.  If the bill is passed, it will go into effect 180 days after the Mayor signs it into law.

 

 

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