To the Editor:
It’s a shame that management of New York City jails is so incompetent that Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen has to state the obvious: that all 9,000 Correction Officers should be trained to deal with violent prisoners (“COBA Suit Seeking Safer Workplace Can Proceed” by Richard Khavkine, July 26).
So I guess Mayor Bill de Blasio and Corrections Commissioner Cynthia Braun do not realize that there are violent people in prison.
What a surprise!
As for the issue of solitary confinement, in cases where it’s misused, certainly action should be taken. But eliminating it altogether, even for younger inmates, is dangerous and dumb.
I’m reminded of arguments I made against the death penalty in which I was asked, “If somebody is already serving life imprisonment, how can guards control them if they don’t have the fear of execution?”
I argued that they had solitary confinement. So without it, what’s to stop someone with nothing to lose from constantly lashing out in a violent way?
Then there’s the case highlighted in another Richard Khavkine article in the same issue about former Correction Captain Gerald Vaughn seeking to have his conviction overturned. His attorney, Justin Bonus, claims the testimony against his client was coerced by Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s prosecutors. Questionable conduct claimed against Clark or her prosecutors? As Yogi Berra said, “It’s deja vu all over again.”
The DA’s office claims Vaughn ordered the beating of inmate Jahmal Lightfoot. But paragraph 13 of Khavkine’s article read “Mr.
Lightfoot himself had testified Mr. Vaughn did not give the order.” So you not only have to question the prosecution, but ask what type of jury convicts him.
In addition to two grand juries, I’ve also served on three regular juries. All three times we voted to acquit. This is not because we were soft on crime. I have no problem with keeping dangerous criminals in jail for life. I voted to acquit because all three times, the cases were so weak, I wondered why they were even brought to trial.
I take “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” seriously. But I’ve encountered people who believe the opposite. But I have to ask them if they want to live in a society where anyone can point a finger at you and you have to prove you didn’t commit the crime.
I’m reminded of a rape case that happened in The Bronx (If my memory is correct, it was in the 1990s). A black man (of course) was convicted of rape. He would later be released when DNA evidence proved him innocent.
But the whole case was based on the woman claiming he was the rapist, with no evidence to back up that claim. So again, where do they get jurors who convict on that? This defendant literally had to have his innocence proven to get out of jail.
Retired Transit Worker
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