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Mayor de Blasio tours Rikers Island amid controversy over jail conditions

The mayor says there are a number of immediate problems that need fixed, including the reduction of the inmate population to under 5,000 people.

News 12 Staff

Sep 28, 2021, 1:31 AM

Updated 997 days ago

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Mayor Bill de Blasio toured Rikers Island Monday amid weeks of controversy over jail conditions.
The mayor says he visited the jail to see the work that the city is doing to fix conditions, and added that the efforts are still not done.
"The last few weeks we've been able to change some things that needed changing immediately," says de Blasio. "But there is a huge amount more of work to do. We're going to stay focused - I have daily calls with this group, we're going to make every change we need to."
The mayor says there are a number of immediate problems that need fixed, including the reduction of the inmate population to under 5,000 people. He also stressed the need to speed up the intake process, stating that it already has gone down from 24 hours to 10 hours in the past few weeks.
"This is a place that needs a lot of work," says de Blasio. "So I think the commissioner is right, our job is to do everything we can within a broken structure. It is 85 years old, it should not be here anymore. Our job is to do what we can with what we have and get fewer and fewer people here."
De Blasio says he also wants to give more support to the jail's health care team. He criticized the Correctional Officer Benevolent Association, saying it has exacerbated the situation on Rikers Island.
Benny Boscio Jr., the president of COBA, responded by saying that what the mayor saw today was a "sugarcoated tour" of Rikers Island and nothing compares to the reality correction officers face every day.
"You haven't been here in four years, and this is not about correction officers? Are you kidding me?" says Boscio. "We're working 25 plus hours. I watched him. I toured with him, and I stood back respectfully, and I watched him. He didn't ask one correction officer - maybe say hi from a distance - not about how many hours are you working, how do you feel today."
The mayor says it's his belief that Rikers is structurally broken and should have been shut down a long time ago. He says the real solution to fixing the problems is getting off the island once and for all.


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