New York – After local and state leaders oversaw Rikers Island, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that he would use emergency orders to make “rapid changes” to the prison.
From overcrowding to overflowing toilets to a lack of sanitary products for female inmates, visits by Public Advocate Jumane Williams and nearly a dozen others on Monday revealed what they called a “humanitarian crisis” at the city prison.
“Recurse is an emergency environment, with humanity and everyone’s health being disregarded,” Williams wrote. “I was shaken during yesterday’s tour and I’m scared for the well being of everyone who lives and works on Rikers.”
Amid infamous prison problems, jailed prisoners were not wearing masks, while others were locked in shower stalls with no toilets.
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As a result, Mayor de Blasio said he would present an emergency relief plan that would include the NYPD.
“We are going to bring in additional help from an important partner agency, the NYPD, to help with some of the discretionary tasks that will put pressure on the Department of Corrections so that corrections officers can go and take care of other tasks,” said de Blasio.
Planned changes included speeding up the intake process, hiring emergency contractors for repairs, and suspending any staff members who went to AWOL.
Vincent Shiraldi, a spokesman for the Reform Commission, told Granthshala 5 News that he welcomed the tour because it highlighted the ongoing problems. Shiraldi took charge of the department in June.
A union representing corrections officials said the impunity was made worse by a large number of COVID cases and a sharp increase in the prison population.
Plans were in the works to close the Rikers complex by 2026 and make it more modern and humanized to replace it with four smaller prisons.