Government Kathy Hochul and Major Bill de Blasio Women and transgender people held at the Rikers Island prison complex will be transferred to two state prisons 40 miles north of New York City, in the latest effort to stem the crisis that has beset the reform system, it announced on Wednesday.
The move is intended to begin on Monday To address an ongoing staffing The reduction – about one in three jailers not showing up for work – allowed the city to deploy guards from women’s units in other chaotic parts of the complex.
It comes as pressure mounts on state and federal officials to act as the city struggles to restore order in Rikers, its largest prison complex, which has collapsed. a state of danger and despair.
The transfers could allow women who have not received medical and mental health care in state prisons to recur amid the closure of such services during the pandemic. But it could make it more difficult for detainees — most of whom are awaiting trial — to attend court hearings and meet with lawyers and family members who are now at least an hour’s drive from Manhattan. Will be
“His day-to-day life in prison will be better,” said Zachary Katznelson, executive director of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, a research and advocacy organization. “But it will be difficult to sort out the cases and reach out to the family and lawyers. It should be a short-term move.”
Tina Luongo, the attorney in charge of the Legal Aid Society’s criminal defense practice, called the move “a bad idea”, saying Mr. de Blasio was abdicating his responsibility to address the issues plaguing the detained Rikers. Were. “It won’t help with staffing issues,” Mx. Luongo said.
Despite the staffing shortage, the Department of Corrections said it would provide daily transportation from New York City to state prisons for family members of detainees.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ms Hochul said the relocation, which would take place at a rate of about 20 per week, would make the Rikers prison complex safer until the city could “identify and implement a permanent solution that would help in the situation.” Will bring justice. In the recursions.”
About 230 people will be transferred from the Rose M Singer Center on Rikers Island – an 800-bed facility for women and transgender people – to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and the nearby Taconic Correctional Facility, potentially employing hundreds of guards will be freed. and the unmanned housing area in Rikers, according to the mayor and governor’s announcement and a person familiar with the plan.
Last month, more than a third of all prison officers either fell ill or failed to appear for duty. The result has become a dangerous situation for guards and those held in captivity alike. In some prisons, detainees have free rein to control who enters and leaves housing areas, and some jailers stop confiscating weapons and intervene in executions and other emergencies. have failed.
The relocation plan follows other efforts to reduce the population on Rikers. Last month, Ms. Hochul started release prisoners Under a new law known as the Less is More Act, which aimed to reduce the prison population by freeing people accused of certain parole violations, such as failing to report to a parole officer. Another 143 people held on minor convictions and serving sentences of one year or less were also shifted from Rikers to state prisons last month.
New York City’s prison system houses more than 5,700 people a day, most of whom live in eight prison buildings on Rikers Island. Most of the people on Rikers are waiting to be tested.
In response to reports of widespread staff absenteeism, Mr. de Blasio last month signed an emergency order suspending corrections officers who did not come on duty. City officials said more than 100 officers have been suspended so far and at least five have quit. More than 1,600 still have not come for work.