Inmates claim correction officers at Rikers Island are not following COVID-19 safety protocol

The safety of inmates at jails around the country has been a consistent concern during the coronavirus pandemic.

News 12 Staff

Jan 27, 2021, 1:56 PM

Updated 1,263 days ago

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The safety of inmates at jails around the country has been a consistent concern during the coronavirus pandemic. 
Now, at least seven inmates are accusing Rikers Island of not following COVID-19 safety protocols. 
Some of the allegations made by the inmates are: 
  • Overcapacity and crowded living conditions 
  • Building not being disinfected 
  • Lack of personal protective equipment worn by correction officers 
  • When one inmate is sick, they’re just taken away, and nothing is done for people who are around them 
  • Inmates have to do their own testing and when tests are done, they are done incorrectly
Responding to those accusations, the Corrections Officers' Benevolent Association says that in reference to masks, “We had to force the city to provide adequate PPE, COVID testing, and regularly sanitize the jails. We were the driving force that held the DOC accountable for their failures in protecting our jails from this pandemic the first time around."
However, as far as the social distancing allegations, the association said, “We have been sounding the alarm for months that our jails were operating near capacity and social distancing was not being enforced by the DOC in clear violation of the CDC’s guidelines. The agency’s management failures have made our jails totally unprepared for this second wave and have put all of our lives at risk.”
The New York City Department of Correction responded saying they have a “robust and successful” COVID-19 plan in place, using a “cohort housing system” to separate newly admitted inmates from the general population. 
They say the average positivity rate for people in custody is lower than the citywide average.


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