To the Editor: On Monday Aug. 27 in the George R. Vierno Center, one of the toughest jails on Rikers Island, another Correction Officer was brutally beaten by an inmate. The officer suffered fractures to his skull, eye orbital and nose, in addition to other injuries.
The inmate attacker was charged with attempted murder. While that sounds appropriate and satisfying for the moment, will there be any follow-up news story in a year or so reporting whether or not the inmate was actually punished?
Will he actually be sentenced to prison time? And if so, will the prison time be served simultaneously with time issued for a different crime? NYC Courts are notorious for allowing sentences to run concurrently, instead of consecutively.
Attacking officers and staff in general has become the new norm on Rikers Island. The NYC jails have never been in worse condition, and the staffers have never been more unsafe than they are right now. It is inevitable that another staff member will be attacked soon, maybe as you are reading this.
There's no reason for the inmates not to. They prey on weakness, and our jails are weaker than they have ever been before.
While there are many contributing factors to this pitiful state of affairs, the primary reason is the handcuffing of the uniformed staff, characterizing them as abusers and the inmates as victims, and basing policy on this.
Years ago this broken agency required less money to operate and yielded much better results. First and foremost, the uniformed staff had the authority to do their job. We were empowered to do our job, and we made this God-forsaken place safe. We could and did proudly state that we were in charge, and it was clear to see. We can't say this anymore. The unpleasant truth is that currently the criminals are fully in command of Rikers Island.
We have lost so much ground in the past eight years. The politically inspired changes have made our jails playgrounds for the criminals.
What can we do about this? Take the handcuffs off our staff, rewrite the rules of engagement and let our staff defend themselves! Bring back full use of the "Bing"—punitive segregation—with no age restrictions and no time limits. Break up the gangs—no more housing gang members together.
This is how we run a jail. Do this and we can turn this disaster around!
Assistant Deputy Wardens, Deputy Wardens Assoc.
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