To the Editor: After Mayor de Blasio visited Rikers Island on Sept 27, he held a vibrant press conference and declared, "I was upset when I took office. I was upset four years ago. I remain upset. This is a place that should have been shut down a long, long time ago."
Since 2014, the Mayor cunningly heralded a self-serving omen that Rikers was inhumane and broken, and because of his inept leadership and negligence, his prophecy has been fulfilled.
Unaccompanied by any journalists, de Blasio technically visited Rikers, although he didn't go to any inmate housing areas and was escorted to safe designated locations that were recently cleaned. He was kept sequestered from the squalor and bedlam that surrounded him.
Unsurprisingly, he didn't speak with officers or inmates. I suspect he didn’t want to be hit with questions or complaints by correction officers and with urine or feces by inmates, as happened to City Councilman Steven Levin, who was hit with an unknown liquid substance thrown by an inmate during his tour Sept 20. Further, the Mayor didn’t want to witness an attempted suicide, as Assemblywoman Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and State Sen. Jessica Ramos did on their Sept 13 visit.
However, de Blasio did respond to the current horrific jail conditions, asserting, "We've got a hell of a lot of work to do." Are these the words of a two-term Mayor with just over 90 days left in office, or a newly elected one addressing pressing issues during his inauguration speech?
Maybe he will administer the final coup de grace on this mortally wounded agency before his term ends.
Besides leaving the Department of Correction in ruins, he has doubled down on his failure and continues to exploit the current chaos and violence on Rikers to his benefit.
I ask readers to consider these statistics. Under Commissioner Martin Horn and First Deputy Commissioner Mark Cranston from 2003 through 2009, there was a total of 226 slashings and stabbings. So far in 2021 alone, there have already been 294 slashings and stabbings.
The inmate violence hasn’t been this bad in 25 years. It sharply increased every year under de Blasio, as if he was inviting DOC's demise while simultaneously foreshadowing it.
And he emphatically continues to proclaim, “I’ve put the plan in place to get us the hell out of here," expecting praise for his solution to the catastrophe he created.
Now he wants to portray himself as a soothsayer instead of a failure.
The Mayor is not a progressive visionary—he is an anti-law enforcement nihilist opposed to the widely accepted values and beliefs of traditional correction management.
Bill de Blasio's objective was always to close Rikers by allowing it to implode and then claim its closure as his legacy.
Instead, his legacy is eight years of carnage and a Correction Department in shambles.
Retired Assistant Deputy Warden
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