Saturday, January 3, 2015

Rikers Island Jail, Criminal Justice, Seabrook 1212

How Pay to Play Inside Seabrook's Union Led to A Loss of $20 Million in Pension Funds  and Less Pay to His Union Members

 Prison guards were scared to question union’s risky investments (NYP) Members of the city prison guards’ union lost $20 million of their hard-earned money to a troubled and risky hedge fund because their leaders were afraid that if they spoke up they would be exiled to work on dreaded Rikers Island, a new lawsuit charges. Leaders of the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association, representing 9,000 jail guards, “provided no meaningful check” on ex-President Norman Seabrook, according to the lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court Monday. qThat’s because Seabrook, union president since 1995, stood between them and significant job perks, like avoiding violent Rikers Island jails, according to the lawsuit. * A new lawsuit charges that members of the New York City prison guards’ union lost $20 million to a troubled and risky hedge fund because their leaders were afraid that if they spoke up they would be exiled to work on Rikers Island, the Post writes.


Closing Rikers Jail for the Developers An "Intriguing Idea" (Cuomo) Proposed By the Council Speaker 
De Blasio dismisses proposal to shut down Rikers Island Cost to Much Cuomo Blasts Him for Dismissal   

Moving #Rikers could create a world of opportunity. Read about the innovative ideas.  #NYC

Cuomo: Closing Rikers Island ‘Intriguing Idea’ (YNN)  Cuomo over the weekend called the proposal advanced by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito of closing Rikers Island an “intriguing idea” given the controversy that has surrounded the city’s main jail complex. “I think that is a very interesting and intriguing idea because Rikers Island as a physical plan is dated,” Cuomo said, adding the facility is a “big problem.” “Rikers Island goes back to, like, the 1930s. It is very large and the design makes the operation of it more difficult.” Cuomo as governor has closed a number of state prison facilities around the state, reducing the number of beds — and costs — in the process.* Cuomo voiced support for New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s call to close Rikers Island, calling the idea offered by the speaker during her State of the City speech last week “interesting and intriguing, the Politico New Yorkwrites:  Calling Riker’s Island a “truly troubled facility,” Cuomo offered early support for NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s plan to reform — and ultimately shut down — the jail, deeming the proposal a “big solution” to a “big problem.”* De Blasio: Closing Rikers IslandWould Cost Billions and Be ‘Very Difficult’ (NYO) * De Blasio dismisses proposal to shut down Rikers Island (NYP) * De Blasio said the idea of closing Rikers Island was a “noble concept” but unrealistic due to the costs, despite support from New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a positive response from Cuomo, the Times writes: *  De Blasio, responding to a call to shut down Rikers Island from NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito that was picked up by his needler-in-chief Cuomo, called it a “noble” but impractical concept.* The NYPD has shelved its investigation into Travis’ claims against Spitzer because she has left the country. “I think at this point, the case is effectively, at the least, in limbo pending a complainant,” Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said.*  Mayor de Blasio: We’ll fix Rikers Island, not close it (NYDN) *Cuomo blasts de Blasio’s over Rikers shut down dismissal (NYP) * After New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’d rather fix Rikers Island rather than close it, first lady Chirlane McCray called closing it a “great idea,” putting her on the same page as Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Daily News reports:Cuomo went on a tear about Rikers being “a terrible and ongoing injustice” after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio a day earlier said the jail would cost billions to close. * De Blasio’s wife, who is his top advisor, said she thinks closing Rikers Island is a “great idea.”* The mayor insisted there is no daylight or disagreement between he and the first lady when it comes to closing Rikers Island.* Bill Bratton dismisses Viverito’s pitch to shut down Rikers Island (NYP) * Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell on closing Rikers Island: “If we truly want to reform our criminal justice system, we can’t hide it on an island in a distant bay. We need regular reminders that it is a part of our lives.” * Just as de Blasio was telling public radio listeners a proposal to shutter Rikers is a “noble” idea, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton was on a different radio station calling the concept “just political rhetoric, a lot of hot air basically” and something that is “not going to happen.”

Today Corporate Media Jokes The Rikers Mews, Maybe Not
If you lived hereyou’d be home right on beautiful Rikers Island (NYDN) Across the way, Errol Louis writes in praise of Melissa Mark-Viverito’s call to shutter Riker’s Island. In a city starved for space, just imagine the rush to fill 413 prime acres of gracious waterfront studios with half-baths, fine communal dining and an exercise yard. A savvy marketer might pitch it as The Rikers Mews, where you can live dangerously, or innocently — the choice is yours.

Fed Prison Investigation
F.B.I. Opens Investigation Into New York Prison Where 2 Escaped (NYT) The investigation, which is focused on drug trafficking and other possible criminal conduct, is likely to raise the scrutiny of prison officials and the apparent lack oversight before the escape. * The FBI in Albany has opened a corruption inquiry focusing on employees and inmates at Clinton Correction Facility in connection with the escape of Matt and Sweat. The state IG has already launched her probe into the incident. * The FBI in Albany opened a corruption inquiry focusing on employees and inmates at the maximum-security prison in northern New York State where two convicted killers escaped this month, the Times writes:    * Prison administrators are responsible for security policy and ensuring proper enforcement and should be held accountable for the two upstate escapees, former state Department of Corrections Deputy Inspector General Patrick Dunleavy writes in the Post: * DOCCS Places 12 On Administration Leave At Clinton Correctional  (YNN)

Correction Officer Put on Leave 

A Tale of Many Criminal Justice and Race Opinions and Directions 

Grand Jury Courts Blast Donovan Albany Silent On Reforms
An appellate judge blasted former Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan, now a congressman, for putting “a very pretty gloss over what happened and sweeping everything else under the rug” when his office released only a limited amount of grand jury information in Eric Garner’s chokehold death case. * After hours of debate that at times became racially charged, Democrats in the state Assembly passed a bill the state attorney general the power to appoint a special prosecutor when individuals die during encounters with police officers. * Appellate division hears Garner grand jury case (Capital)  Panel will rule on release of details* After Garner, Assembly passes special prosecutor bill (Capital) * “It’s so obvious that our bail system—excuse the expression—is totally ass-backwards in every respect.”--New York State chief judge Jonathan Lippman, to Observer’s Jillian Jorgensen * 4 Judges heard arguments over whether the #EricGarner grand jury info should be unsealed. They also blasted DA office * City courts have cleared 42% of the long-term cases on Rikers Islandin past two months (WSJ) * Inspector general probes Bratton’s nonprofit ‘piggy bank’ for cronies (NYP)  Weeks after The Post exposed a nonprofit for hiringPolice Commissioner Bill Bratton’s longtime cronies, he is now facing a second inquiry into the charity. The NYPD’s inspector general is conducting a “preliminary review” focused on financial disclosures made by the New York City Police Foundation, which has spent at least $2 million to fulfill Bratton’s requests to hire old friends as NYPD consultants.* Nearly a third of shootings in 'Summer' precincts   Albany's Big Ugly: Gov Cuomo says disparate, major issues must be negotiated together. Not to do is is 'unrealistic...  That’s 1 house saying, ‘I want what I want & I don’t care what you want;' That seldom works in life, let alone in legislation

Russell Simmons: De Blasio a ‘bitch’ on policing (Capital) * A Brooklyn street was renamed for Detective Rafael Ramos, whowas killed in the line of duty: (NY1) * Look who’d really gain from the drive to end bail (NYP Ed) * Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons calls Mayor de Blasio a'punk' and a 'b---h' for not pushing Gov. Cuomo harder on police reforms (NYDN)  “Our police commissioner is bullying our punk mayor that we worked so hard to put in office," Simmons said during a Thursday radio appearance on Hot 97’s "Ebro in the Morning" show. * Mullins, police union leader, says recent crime spike is "direct correlation between proactive policing and reactive policing.” v @JCats2013  * Mullins criticizes @BrooklynDA’s “amnesty” program. * NYPD Detectives Killed in Line of Duty Honored at Brooklyn Events (NY1) Azi ‏@Azi  very candid. #NYPD’s highest ranking uniformed officer recalls "level of vitriol” hurled at cops earlier, made u wonder y take take the job

 A Push to Reform ‘Ass-Backwards’ Bail SystemAfter Kalief Browder’s Death (NYO) * In the past two months, New York City’s courts have resolved 42 percent of more than 1,400 criminal cases involving defendants who had been at the Rikers Island jail complex for more than a year. * LIVING IN FEAR: Officer in Eric Garner chokehold case has around-the-clock NYPD protection and panic button in Staten Island home due of death threats: court docs (NYDN)* De Blasio plans to triple the number of low-level criminal suspects freed without bail under a supervised-release program, although a quarter of defendants participating now are rearrested, the Post reports:  * New York City courtsresolved 42 percent of the criminal cases involving inmates who had been at Rikers Island for over a year, or 591 out of 1,427 cases, in an effort to clear a backlog, the Journal writes:* Thompson’s office launches warrant amnesty program (Capital)

 GARNER TRANSCRIPTS -- Appeals court hears arguments onwhether to release grand jury testimony -- WNYC“The four justices with New York's Appellate Division in Brooklyn told attorneys on Tuesday that the bar to release the minutes was high, and that attorneys would need to meet a few criteria: they must present a ‘compelling and particular’ reason why that information is necessary; they must prove that witnesses won't be harmed as a result of their names being released to the public; and, they must show that the information can't be obtained any other way. -- “Justice Mark Dillon asked how the Garner case was different from the 1991 case of a Hasidic Jew who killed two black children in Crown Heights. That case set off riots, and like the Garner case, a national conversation. Yet the court ruled at the time that the grand jury testimony should remain sealed.

“Arthur Eisenberg, an attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union, argued Tuesday that times have changed. ‘What exists here and what did not exist then is a public conversation about grand jury reform, driven by the Garner grand jury proceedings,’ Eisenberg said. ‘For real reforms to take place, the public needs to know the scope of the problem.’” -- “Anne Grady, a lawyer for the Staten Island District Attorney's office, said she … ‘The idea that this lone case, which everyone regards as an aberration, should become the blueprint for any reform whatsoever is dubious.’”* 4 Judges heard arguments over whether the #EricGarner grandjury info should be unsealed. They also blasted DA office(NY1) * “It’s so obvious that our bail system—excuse the expression—is totally ass-backwards in every respect,” New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said. *   De Blasio wants to release more low-level criminals without bail (NYP)* Hundreds of people facing arrest turned out at a Brooklyn church for a program that offers them a fresh start. (NYDN)

Corrections Officers Leader Seabrook Bharara Target
Leader of correction officers’ union faces federal probe for allegedly accepting gifts from firms (NYDN) The feds have one of the city’s most powerful union leaders squarely in their sights. Norman Seabrook, who heads the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, is under investigation for allegedly receiving kickbacks from firms that do business with the labor union, the Daily News has learned. Among the golden gifts, sources say, were two free trips to IsraelU.S. Attorney Preet Bharara subpoenaed COBA’s financial records last week, according to multiple sources. No charges have been filed. *  
FBI probing NYC jail guards union over investments (NYP)  Federal investigators are looking into the financial records and other documents of the powerful union representing the city’s 9,000 jail guards, the union’s president and its law firm confirmed Wednesday to The Associated Press. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office appears to be focusing in part on claims in a union official’s lawsuit alleging the improper investment of union funds. Among the allegations in the lawsuit is that Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook made a risky $5 million investment into an unnamed hedge fund last year without union board approval. * The FBI is examining the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association’s financial records, with an apparent focus on claims that union funds were improperly invested, The Associated Press reports: * Federal investigators are looking into the financial records and other documents of the powerful union representing NYC’s 9,000 jail guards, the union’s president and its law firm confirmed. * -- Seabrook, to the Daily News: “It's not the first union in America to get a subpoena and I'm sure it won't be the last … We will gladly provide all the requested documents and I’m confident that the government will see that there has been no wrongdoing.”  * ikers Inquiry Expands to Include Union Chief’s Financial Dealings (NYT)  Federal prosecutors are looking into whether Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, enriched himself in his two decades running the union, according to a copy of a subpoena.

Feds Sue Rikers Island Jail Makes It Easier for the Mayor to Get Around Union/Political Power Seabrook Blocking Reforms 
Feds sue NYC over Rikers Island jail violence(NYP) Federal prosecutors have sued New York City to speed reforms at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex. The lawsuit was filed Thursday to address what a Justice Department investigation found was a culture of violence against young inmates.* U.S. Plans to Sue New York Over Rikers Island Conditions(NYT) Federal prosecutors are concerned about what they see as the slow pace of reforms at the jail complex, a court filing reveals.* Department of Justice sues New York City over Rikers' treatment of young prisoners
The DOJ, in courtpapers filed with the Manhattan (NYDN)  U.S. Attorney's Office, say the city and Department of Correction 'have engaged in a pattern and practice of subjecting the subject inmates to excessive and unnecessary use of force by DOC staff, and failing to adequately protect the subject inmates from violence inflicted by other inmates.'* Federal prosecutors are seeking to sue New York City over reports of inmate abuse at Rikers Island by joining a class action lawsuit filed by a former Rikers inmate, the Wall Street Journalreports:  * Gov. Cuomo has yet to take action on a bill the correction’s officers union representing Rikers Island pushed for, which would make the Queens district attorney responsible for all crimes committed in the jail instead of the Bronx DA, who currently prosecutes the cases, the Times writes: Feds Sue City Over Treatment of Juvenile Inmates at Rikers(NY1)* Next Steps on Brutality at Rikers Island (NYT Ed) By suing New York City, federal prosecutors are pushing for faster progress in reforms to end the jail’s culture of violence.* Advocates and Former Inmates Wary of Mayor's Housing Proposal for Rikers(NY1)

Joseph Ponte has been caught off guard by the New York City jail complex: Just over a year into his tenure, the level of violence is higher than ever, and corruption persists.

New York City officially announced that it will not renew its contract with Corizon, the for-profit healthcare provider at Rikers Island, opting instead to work with the Health and Hospitals Corporation, the Observer reports:

  • \

  • The Times writes that the death of Kalief Browder, a Bronx man who committed suicide after being held at Rikers Island without a trial for years, makes it “more imperative” for reforms at the jail complex to have teeth:

NYC will not renew a multimillion dollar contract with Corizon Health, the company that provides medical care at the Rikers Island jail complex, and will transfer the care of inmates to the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation.

Rikers Island and the Death of Kalief Browder (NYT Ed) Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers should bring New York into the 21st century by passing a bill that would keep children out of adult prisons.

The NYC corrections commissioner said overhauling Rikers Island will be a “long, heavy lift.”
CORRECTION BOARD BALKS AT PROPOSED RIKERS CHANGES -- Capital’s Gloria Pazmino and Colby Hamilton: At their monthly meeting on Tuesday, members of the city’s Board of Correction tabled a proposal by the Department of Correction to change several rules at Rikers Island, after advocates and some members of the board voiced concern that the process had been rushed.
During the hearing, D.O.C. commissioner Joseph Ponte appeared to back off the proposal, agreeing that the changes should be given a closer look. “We had decided in a couple of days that we wanted to slow this process down, we agreed to just move the official proposal down another month—it makes sense,” Ponte told Capital after the hearing.
The proposal, which had been sent to the board in May, would place broad new restrictions on visits and impose stricter rules for solitary confinement at Rikers Island, as part of Mayor de Blasio’s 14-point plan to reduce violence at the jail, announced by the mayor in March.

NYT Reports That Correction Officers' Union has Fed A Culture of Corruption 

At Rikers, a Roadblock to Reform(NYT) Norman Seabrook’s two-decade reign as president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association has paid huge dividends for his members, but has also fed a culture of corruption and violence at the Rikers Island jail complex. Over his two decades as president of the Corrections Officer Union, Norman Seabrook,has come to exert extraordinary control over the NYC Correction Department, consulting with commissioners on key appointments, forging alliances with high-ranking uniformed correction leaders and, more recently, speaking regularly with de Blasio about department policy.* Jury Is Deciding if Rikers Captain Ignored a Dying Man(NYT) Terrence Pendergrass is charged with depriving the rights of an inmate who ingested a toxic soap ball and suffered chemical burns.* NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to Visit Troubled Rikers Island Jail Complex(WSJ) New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to visit Rikers Island on Wednesday, his first visit to the troubled jail complex since taking office in January. Mr. de Blasio has called fixing Rikers a “moral obligation."de Blasio and Correction Commissioner Joe Ponte announced that Rikers Island will end the practice of sending 16- and 17-year-old inmates to solitary confinement for breaking rules, theAssociated Press reports: 

The first Rikers Island correction officer to be tried for civil rights abuses in more than a decade was found guilty by a jury for his role in the death of an inmate in 2012, the New York Timesreports:  After months of intensifying pressure to address rampant brutality and corruption at Rikers Islandde Blasio toured the troubled jail complex – his first visit since taking office. * New York City says it has ended its longstanding practice of sending 16- and 17-year-old inmates to solitary confinement for breaking rules.* Ex-Captain at Rikers Is Found Guilty of Civil Rights Violation in Inmate’s Death(NYT) * De Blasio Tours Rikers Island Jail Complex for First Time as Mayor Mayor Praises Rikers Changes(WSJ)* After a scathing report concluded that the city placed 16- to 18-year-old inmates in solitary confinement on Rikers Island too often, de Blasio and Correction Commissioner Joe Ponteannounced that they have ended the practice.

No comments:

Post a Comment