“The leaders of the New York City Department of Correction had already lost control over Rikers Island this fall when they went in search of one small measure of relief.
They needed 19 correction officers whom they had posted at the Queens criminal courthouse to fill in at the massive jail complex, where staffing was short, slashings and stabbings were up and detainees had gained control over some housing units. It was Columbus Day, a holiday, and the workload at the Queens courthouse was comparatively light.
But when the bus to Rikers arrived at the courthouse, many of the guards refused to board it. Instead, according to interviews, they claimed the onset of sudden illness. Seven of them dialed 911, complaining of chest pain, leg injuries, lightheadedness and palpitations. One produced a cane as proof of disability. More than a dozen officers left in ambulances. Rikers remained understaffed.
The Columbus Day episode underscores how easy New York City’s leaders have made it for jail guards to sidestep assignments they do not want, even as Rikers Island has been gripped by its worst crisis since it reeled from the crack epidemic in the early ’90s.”
David Lindsay: This article,. “Behind the Violence at Rikers, Decades of Mismanagement and Dysfunction” is massively important and disturbing. It makes a person of conscience want to vomit. What can be done. Can the new mayor take on the NYC correction officers union? Can it be dismantled? Can the mayor call in the NY State national guard, to man the prisons, if there is a huge city wide strike. Can the NYT help clarify what can and can’t be done?