The head of the Correction Officers’ union has called on city and Department of Correction officials to bolster security for COs following two separate attacks on his members this week, including an attempted rape of a female CO.
Inmates known to be violent, or who might have a propensity for violence, “should not be allowed to be part of the general population,” the president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Elias Husamudeen, said Thursday.
'Segregate and Separate'
“We should be able to segregate and separate these inmates,” he said. “They should not be allowed to be part of the general population. We can’t continue to have them roaming around the housing units if they are not abiding by the rules.”
He was speaking a day after a female Correction Officer at the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island was grabbed from behind by a 29-year-old inmate who then tried to sexually assault her.
Mr. Husamudeen said the officer was able to free herself from the inmate’s grasp and that two officers and three inmates then came to her aid. The CO was taken to a hospital for observation and released the same day.
The other assault, on Tuesday evening at the Manhattan Detention Complex, was perpetrated by one of the five men recently convicted of killing 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz in the Bronx last year, Mr. Husamudeen said.
Jose Muniz, 22, who was being held at the MDC downtown pending sentencing for his murder conviction, jumped a Correction Officer, fracturing his back and dislocating his shoulder in what Mr. Husamudeen said was “an unprovoked attack.”
“He pretty much just spazzed out, said he had nothing to lose,” the union president said.
That officer was also treated at a local hospital and released the same day, the union leader said.
Both incidents are under investigation, the DOC said.
“Our officers are brave public servants who make our jails safer. These attacks are deplorable and we take assaults on our officers very seriously,” the DOC’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, Peter Thorne, said in a statement. “One of the attackers has been charged with attempted murder, and we are pursuing re-arrest of the other.”
Mr. Husamudeen said he has been talking to DOC officials and with City Hall about bolstering the Correction Officer-to-inmate ratio, which he said stood at 1 to 50.
“It should be at 1 to 20,” he said, a proportion he said should be attainable given the record-low inmate population.
He said DOC was being slow to appreciate the need for more inmate supervision.
“You have an opportunity here. You have the right amount of officers and a low amount of inmates. Now is the time to do that,” he said.
He also said Corrections Officers should be part of discussions on the treatment and placement of inmates shown to have histories of mental-health problems.
“For our own protection, we want to know who we’re dealing with,” he said. He also suggested the city and the DOC need to consider additional resources, including detention facilities, for that population, saying that the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward on First Avenue in Manhattan can hold fewer than 100 inmates. “We need to get them the help they need and the protection they need,” Mr. Husamudeen said.
We depend on the support of readers like you to help keep our publication strong and independent. Join us.