‘We’ve had officers cut with shanks.’-- Chaos inside Rikers Island surges, report says use of force remains high

The union president says correction officers have been used as scapegoats for the chaos that is happening at Rikers Island, including 14 inmate deaths this year, fires at the facility and inmates and staff getting assaulted.

News 12 Staff

Dec 10, 2021, 3:30 AM

Updated 866 days ago

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The situation inside Rikers Island is getting even more dire, according to those inside the jail’s walls. 
“We’ve had officers cut with shanks. It has been a very dangerous situation for us, ” said Benny Boscio, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association. 
The union president says correction officers have been used as scapegoats for the chaos that is happening at Rikers Island, including 14 inmate deaths this year, fires at the facility and inmates and staff getting assaulted. 
Boscio says housing inmates with their gang affiliation, cell doors unable to securely lock and staffing shortages are leading to extremely dangerous conditions for inmates and correction officers at the city’s jail. 
“We don't have enough officers to respond to major alarms. If a C.O. is in trouble and hits their personal body alarm, it takes an essence of 30 minutes to get a response team to help that officer in need,” said Boscio. 
According to testimony from Department of Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi that was made before the New York City Council on Criminal Justice on Sept. 15, out of 8,4000 staff members, 32% are out sick, AWOL or are medically modified.  
Since Jan. 2019, Boscio says there’s been roughly 1,500 resignations from DOC staff. 
Boscio blames the deteriorating conditions for the mass exodus. “If there is no corrections officer on the floor - then the inmates can kill other inmates,” said Boscio. 
According to a report by a federal monitor assigned to investigate Rikers Island, the use of force remains high with a 170% increase comparing to Aug. 2020 and Aug. of 2021. 
Stabbings and slashings also saw an increase from last year with a 450% uptick, according to the report. 
 Bobby Cruz says Rikers says the jail is falling apart and the jail should be shut down and the conditions are not even fit for an animal. 
“When we are forced to sleep on the floor that’s dirty, go nights without eating, wear the same underwear, same socks, having to wash them every night, wearing a jail uniform with no underwear, that’s nasty, you get rashes,” says Cruz. 
News 12 reached out to the Department of Correction, and it said it hired an external cleaning service for the multiple facilities on the ground, and that uniforms for people in custody in housing units are being supplied. It added that the issues Cruz mentioned were during the height of the housing crisis. 
As for staffing, DOC Commissioner Schiraldi says the department is committed to hiring 600 new correction officers with the first 75 to 125 expected to start on the job after training by Jan. 1.


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