To the Editor: After a year of complaints submitted by union officials to Commissioner Cynthia Brann, correction officers are still working 24-hour tours. Yet, according to an investigative report by Channel 4 News on March 24, in a letter to lawmakers Brann denied that correction officers were working those triple tours.
As Brann jockeys for position in the home stretch of her tenure, 30 correction officers worked 24-hour shifts and 27 others worked about 20 hours straight during the weekend of March 20.
At the end of her term there will be no swan song by Cynthia Brann. She will leave as she arrived—inept and unavailing. She has completely failed DOC.
Clearly, no one can be effective or fully alert working 24 hours in one day. But correction officers are required to be alert constantly and are held as accountable for the safety and security of the jails on their third consecutive shift as they are on their first.
Because of fatigue and sleep deprivation, when officers are on their second or third consecutive tour of duty, the jails are more vulnerable and susceptible to inmate suicides, escapes, erroneous discharges and violence.
I submit that forcing correction officers to work 24 hours straight borders on criminal negligence by DOC's top management and is at a minimum reckless endangerment, putting everyone in the jail in danger and jeopardy.
It is baffling that Brann cannot solve this managerial problem. She has saddled COs with great strain and anguish.
In NYC, horses work under the strict scrutiny of veterinarians and NYC oversight agencies.
Fortunately, there are laws that protect horses and limit the number of hours they can work. The horses that pull a carriage through Central Park are limited to nine work hours in a 24-hour period. Stable horses that are ridden are limited to eight work hours per day. The horses must be fed well and often, and they are required to have rest breaks during their work day and five weeks of furlough per year.
Ostensibly, city agencies enforce those laws, and rightfully so, yet Cynthia Brann continues to violate labor regulations that protect civil-service employees from inhumane working conditions like 24-hour shifts and no lunch or dinner breaks.
And as NYC horses end their workday after eight or nine hours with several meals and breaks in between, NYC correction officers are still being ridden by Cynthia Brann and Bill de Blasio and pulling the DOC workload for 24 consecutive hours without a meal period.
The Correction Department needs intervention. It is in crisis, and correction officers are being abused.
Retired Assistant Deputy Warden
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