Saturday, January 3, 2015

Rikers Island Jail, Ponte, Seabrook 1212

Rechnitz the Rat, Seabrook

Reelection Politics Meets Rikers Closing No Jail SI 
De Blasio won't open Staten Island jail when Rikers closes (NYP) * The union representing New York City correction officers called the recent proposal to close Rikers Island a “fantasy” and urged City Hall to focus on immediately reducing violence behind bars instead, the Daily News reports.  *  Mark-Viverito wants a jail in Staten Island when Rikers closes (NYP) * New Yorkers overwhelmingly support a wide range of criminal justice reforms to reduce the number of inmates as part of the plan to shut down Rikers Island, according to a survey commissioned by the independent panel studying Rikers’ closure, the Daily News reports.  * While de Blasio may see closing Rikers Island as good politics in a re-election year, it is bad policy because the 10-year goal is hardly a serious aspirational target, among other reasons, New York City mayoral candidate Robert Gangi writes in Gotham Gazette.

NYC Neighborhoods Already Playing A Price From Develops, Homeless Shelters May Not Survive the Closing of Rikers 
De Blasio faces uphill battle trying to replace Rikers Island (NYP) * Mayor Backs Plan to Close Rikers and Open Jails Elsewhere (NYT)  A commission’s recommendation to close Rikers Island, and move prisoners to smaller jails in New York City, has won the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio.  * The main obstacle to closing Rikers Island is political, but reforming our jail system and closing Rikers is not simply good public policy – it is a moral imperative, write Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jonathan Lippman in The New York Times.  * De Blasio endorsed the sentiment but not the specifics of the new “Close Rikers” report, and for good reason: It’s an enormous leap, resting on some huge assumptions, like that the city can cut its jail population in half and build five new jails, the Post writes.* Why the ‘Close Rikers’ plan is pure fantasy (NYP Ed) The plan drawn up by a blue-ribbon panel under former state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann rests on some huge assumptions: that the city can cut its jail population in half and build five new facilities (one near each county courthouse) to replace Rikers. But can the city cut the daily jail numbers from 10,000 in detention to 5,000 — and keep it there? That requires (among other things) changes in state law to drastically ease bail requirements — changes the state Senate’s sure to balk at. (It’s balking at less-dramatic reforms right now.)  And then those reforms have to actually work — to not impact public safety — or the pendulum will swing right back.  It also requires the police to keep on succeeding in driving crime rates down, so that ever-fewer New Yorkers get sent to jail.  This, when many of the same voices who are loudest in demanding that Rikers close are just as adamant that the NYPD abandon the Broken Windows community policing that’s gotten the city this far — driving the jail population down from 20,000 to 10,000 over the last few decades. f the city closes Rikers, then finds it needs more jail space than the plan projects, it’ll be spending far more than $10 billion to build new facilities (and fighting more community sentiment) than Lippmann and his experts guess. * De Blasio’s jail break: The hard realities of his plansto close Rikers Island (NYDN ED) De Blasio’s jail break: The hard realities of his plans to close Rikers Island (NYDN) De Blasio’s newfound commitment takes a stand bolder in appearance than in reality, so carefully has he scoped out the exit doors to avoid political confinement by controversies sure to be in store.  First: in the City Council, which will have to approve the relocation of the city jails to sites yet to be selected in city neighborhoods not likely to roll out the welcome mat for criminal defendants and attendant traffic.  Multiply by, oh, 10 the complications de Blasio’s had siting homeless shelters and you begin to comprehend the complexity of the task.  The Lippman report advises one in each borough near court houses — in three of five instances on existing jail sites.  As part of a fleshed-out blueprint, de Blasio owes the city proposed locations, and soon. * Developers eye Rikers Island as NYC's next big realestate hub (NY Curbed) The 413-acre island could give way to a Stuy Town style housing development * De Blasio’s newfound commitment to closing Rikers Island takes a stand bolder in appearance than in reality, so carefully has he scoped out the exit doors to avoid political confinement by controversies sure to be in store, the Daily News writes.* Rikers Island Commission Unveils Plan to Shut Down Jail Complex (NYT) With Mayor Bill de Blasio now backing the plan, Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council speaker, announced a 10-year goal for the departure of the last inmate.* The jail commission’s report said Albany lawmakers should consider reclassifying prostitution as a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which would essentially let prostitutes off with a summons instead of sending them jail, the New York Post reports.  * Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s commission on closing Rikers gave a specific, sensible, defensible plan that saves money and spreads the burden, but instead of making the case for it, de Blasio chose to be noncommittal on a solution, the Times writes. * Violence against inmates increased at Rikers despite reforms (NYP) * How Rikers Island became the hellhole it is today (NYP) * Looks like that ‘Close Rikers’ plan is already dead (NYP) * * The New York City Council is asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to set aside half a billion dollars for a new jail on Rikers Island, days after officials announced they’d move to close the troubled jail complex over the next decade, the Daily News reports. * It looks like that “Close Rikers” plan is a total non-starter after all, the Post writes, as de Blasio has already rejected one of its core steps of decriminalizing a host of offenses, from prostitution to fare evasion.

de Blasio Cover-Up Attempt of DOC Spying Lying On DOI Investigation of Illegal Car Use Speaker Calls for Ponte Resignation

New York Council Speaker Calls for Resignation of Jails Chief (NYT)
Ponte unsure about his future with Department of Correction (NYP) * New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called for the resignation of city Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte, saying that “his leadership is lacking,” the Daily News writes.
De Blasio defended Ponte despite knowing about DOC probe (NYP) de Blasio knew as early as last Wednesday that the city’s Correction Department was under investigation for allegedly spying on other probers looking into a travel scandal involving his agency commissioner. two days later in a radio interview.  But that didn’t stop Hizzoner from defending embattled DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte  Wednesday night, de Blasio received a letter from the city’s Department of Investigation with five recommendations, including sidelining one of Ponte’s top aides over the alleged spying. De Blasio didn’t answer questions at a press event Monday.  “Circling the wagons may be a good strategy in a Hollywood western, but it’s a terrible way to govern,’’ said Councilmember Rory Lancman (D-Queens).     Embattled jail chief in middle of DOC spying probe (NYP) The head of internal affairs for the city’s jails was put on modified duty Monday amid accusations he directed staffers to spy on other city investigators — who were probing him and his boss, officials said.  Department of Correction Deputy Commissioner Gregory Kuczinski ordered his staffers to listen in on calls between city Department of Investigation probers and confidential informants in jail, according to a statement by DOI Commissioner Mark Peters.

Disciplined Jail Chief Rents Queens Apt to Satisfy Residency 
Disciplined jails chief rents Queens apartment to satisfy residency (NYP) The head of the city’s jails investigative unit, who was put on modified duty this week over claims he directed workers to spy on city probers, has come up with an unusual living arrangement to meet the residency requirement for his job.  Deputy Correction Commissioner Gregory Kuczinski rents a Queens pad, not far from Rikers Island, according to records and an East Elmhurst neighbor.  But his wife lives in White Plains, where the couple bought a home for $635,000 in March 2016 — after Kuczinski took on the jails job requiring him to live in the city, records show.In April 2016, he even voted in Westchester, according to the county’s Board of Elections.  “I have my apartment in the city and I have the house in White Plains,” he told The Post on Tuesday. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

DOI was investigating whether more than 20 Correction higher-ups — including Kuczinski and Commissioner Joseph Ponte — were misusing city vehicles at the time.  The “unauthorized surveillance” took place “over a period of months,” Peters said.  “DOI’s investigation demonstrated that this was not inadvertent, but that DOC staff deliberately targeted DOI investigators for surveillance, and that they continued the surveillance even after written directives that such surveillance was to end.  “DOI is particularly concerned that there was a renewal of this activity, directed by [Deputy Commissioner] Kuczinski, immediately after he and other senior staff were informed that DOI was preparing a report on their improper use of city vehicles,” Peters said.  “None of the DOC staff were able to provide a coherent explanation for this misconduct,” he added.Ponte may be adding possible tax fraud to his problems (NYP) Embattled Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte’s next problem might be with the IRS.   Ponte racked up more than 18,500 miles of personal use on his government car in 2016 for multi-day trips as far as Maine, but claimed only $530.48 worth of taxable benefits for IRS purposes.   Under tax regulations, the actual value should have been $10,430, according to the Department of Investigation — not including the $3,600 the city paid for his garage.  “He should be on the hook for the many trips he took,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of the Citizens Union good-government group. “It’s clear that the trips to Maine were for personal use and not city business and he’s obligated to pay taxes.”* Jailschief Joe Ponte keeps exposing his own incompetence (NYP Ed) * Internal Investigator Is Removed Over Rikers Spying Claim (NYT)  The commissioner of New York City’s Correction Department placed his agency’s head of internal affairs on modified duty in response to eavesdropping accusations.* Correction commissioner pleadsignorance during City Council hearing over his misuse of NYC-issued car (NYDN)  * Two former senior correction officials all but accused New York City Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte of lying under oath at a City Council budget hearing, both denying they told him he could drive his city vehicle out of state, the Times reports.

Sal Albanese‏ @SalAlbaneseNYC DEB's mismanagement of another major agency, Corrections, calls for immediate firing of Commissioner Ponte!

3 Days After Headlines de Blasio Tweaks Car Us "Gall" As He Keeps Defending Ponte
DeBlasio continues to defend correction boss despite 'gall' at misuse ofresources (NYDN)   de Blasio says he's galled by the misuse of city resources - but he's continuing to defend and pay top Department of Correction staffers accused of doing so.  After a day of dodging questions from the press about the city's jails, Hizzoner tripled down on defending Commissioner Joseph Ponte, who misused his city car for personal jaunts to Maine and whose agency was inappropriately listening in on investigators from the Department of Investigation, which uncovered the car controversy. But de Blasio didn't seem like a galled man, nor has he since the news broke. The next words out of his mouth were a defense of Ponte: "But I don't think anyone attempted to cheat here, and they will pay back anything, and again, if there's further penalties or actions, those will be taken."

WCBS' Kramer DOC's Ponte When He Ran Maine Dept of Correction Prohibited Use of State-Owned During Off Duty Hours  
CBS2 Exclusive: Questions Surround de Blasio’s Defense OfCity Corrections Commissioner (WCBS) “You have to live under a rock not to know it’s not proper to take a city car and use it for personal use, no matter what your guidance is, something should say to you, it’s not the thing to do,” CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer asked Mayor Bill de Blasio.“The bottom line is, he’s not from NYC. He’s not used to the NYC government, he’s used to other jurisdictions, each jurisdiction has a different approach,” de Blasio said.  Maybe not Mr. Mayor.  CBS2’s Kramer did some digging, and found out that prior to coming to the city, Ponte ran the Department of Corrections in Maine where he personally approved the policy on the use of state-owned vehicles.  “Off duty use of state-owned vehicles is prohibited,” the policy said.  And.  “Under no circumstances are state-owned gas credit cards and electronic toll devices to be used for personal use,” it continued.  A different jurisdiction, but the same approach as New York City.  “Double standards, that says double standards,” Elias Husamudeen, President of the Correction Officer’s Benevolent Association, said.  On his radio show the mayor continued to insist Ponte has been a splendid commissioner even though violence on Rikers Island has apparently spiked.  “That’s a hell of a lot more important than whether he accidentally used his car the wrong way,” de Blasio said on WNYC radio.  DOI said that during the 90 days Ponte was out of the city last year, there were many serious incidents including 27 inmate stabbings or slashings, and a prisoner escape.  The commissioner told DOI that since he was a few hours away it wasn’t practical to respond personally.* DeBlasio blasts DOI report on jail chief's unsanctioned trips (NYP) 

De Blasio blasts media coverage over inaccurate quotes onstaffers booted for using city car on personal trips (NYDN)  Tales of rank-and-file workers getting fired for the same thing his correction commissioner did are just fake news, Mayor de Blasio said Friday.  Hizzoner was again asked about whether Joseph Ponte, who repeatedly cruised to his home state of Maine for personal trips in his city vehicle, was getting special treatment on his weekly WNYC appearance. Host Brian Lehrer noted media reports of lower-level employees losing their jobs for similar conduct and asked if he disputed that Ponte was being treated differently.  “I sure do dispute it, because ‘as described in the press’ is a very subjective term. And I’ve had to say many a time to you, Brian, respectfully, that you constantly quote media accounts that prove to be inaccurate,” de Blasio said. “I’m not saying you personally seek them out. I’m saying a lot of your colleagues in the media.”  At that point, Lehrer cut the mayor off and asked him to identify how the media accounts were wrong.  “I’m saying something different to you,” de Blasio said, refusing to explain his comment. “I’m saying I’m not going to accept a media account.”  But it’s not just media accounts — Conflicts of Interest Board reports show city workers have lost their jobs for doing what Ponte did. In March, Department of Environmental Protection engineer Magdy Youssef resigned after being caught using his city car 19 times for personal business — and the Conflicts of Interest Board deemed his resignation a “sufficient penalty” for his misuse of city resources. Many other city workers have faced steep fines or suspensions for using city cars.* The great Ponte punt: Mayor de Blasio can't seem to holdhis commissioner responsible for his ethics breach (NYDN)  Deeper and deeper Mayor de Blasio digs into a whole mess of nonsense, grasping at anything to justify keeping on a jails commissioner, Joe Ponte, who’s long past proving his case for getting canned.  Asked to answer for Ponte’s weeks spent tooling to, from and around his home state of Maine in his city-issued SUV, fueled by city-funded gas and paying tolls with a city-paid E-ZPass, de Blasio waved it all off as an honest error, telling radio host Brian Lehrer Friday:  “He sought guidance, believed he was doing the right thing, and it was obviously a mistake.”  Which followed this excuse Thursday: “I think it’s not just good intentions but believing he had received the appropriate guidance and nothing countered that.”  But a big something did in fact counter the fairy tale that a city official is entitled to drive his official vehicle on personal business: An agreement with the Conflicts of Interest Board that an assistant commissioner for Ponte’s Department of Correction would pay a $1,500 fine for violating city law, by having a colleague escort him and his family, in his official vehicle, to JFK Airport.  That agreement, signed on Feb. 26, 2016 by Ponte — or, more precisely, by an unknown Department of Correction official who scrawled his or her signature “for Commissioner Ponte” — cites a City Charter provision known chapter and verse by city civil servants, forbidding use of an official position for personal financial gain. If anyone gave Ponte erroneous guidance, it’s his boss de Blasio, who lauds Ponte’s near-abolition of solitary confinement as “a hell of a lot more important than whether he accidentally used his car the wrong way.”  Dangerously signaling that ethics sins are to be forgiven — at least for a protected, privileged few.

NYP's Much to Do About Nothing: A Ponte Report Does Not Add Up to A DOI Peters Break With the Mayor
Serious Issues of Pay to Play Ignored by DOI As The Post Pushing Him to Run for Office? 
De Blasio’s pal may be running for public office (NYP)  de Blasio’s close pal and campaign treasurer — but now the city’s Department of Investigation chief has become an archenemy.  One possible reason: Sources say he’s positioning himself to run for public office as a fearless investigator unafraid to take on the powerful.  Commissioner Mark Peters befriended de Blasio in the 1990s, when both were serving on the school board in Park Slope.  The former prosecutor served as de Blasio’s campaign treasurer in 2013, donating more than $7,000 to the mayor’s election effort.  But, mulling his own run for public office, Peters has proved he isn’t afraid to butt heads with his boss.  Last week, Peters’ agency issued a blistering report on a slew of Correction officials, including Commissioner Joseph Ponte, who misused their city vehicles for personal purposes.  Sources say Peters is interested in making a second bid for Brooklyn district attorney in four years, depending on how the race shakes out this year, and is also considering a run for state attorney general if Eric Schneiderman makes a bid for governor.
10 Areas Where DOI Can Investigate the BOE
DOI Conflictof Interests Board

deB First Mayor to Defend and Not Troubled by Corruption Ponte Given Wrong Info About Days Off and City Car Not Nefarous Says de Blasio

De Blasio: Jail chief's intentions were not ‘nefarious’ (NYP) His jails boss spent 90 days out of the city last year — including workdays — and misused his official vehicle to do so, but Mayor de Blasio said Thursday he’s sure he didn’t do anything wrong because his intentions were not nefarious.  “I have talked to [Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte] directly,” the mayor said after an unrelated press conference in Queens  “I believe 100 percent he thought he was doing what . . . staff guided him to do. He thought he was doing the right thing. He never intended to do anything wrong.”  The mayor said he was unaware who gave the commissioner such bad advice. * De Blasio may be the first mayor to defend public corruption (NYP) No recent New York City mayor has gotten through his years in office without a corruption scandal, and Mayor de Blasio is no exception. One critical difference, however: De Blasio has explicitly defended a top-level commissioner accused of serious, willful, repeated misuse of taxpayer resources.  Last week, the city’s independent Department of Investigation announced that, using GPS and toll-collection data, it had found that Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte had, in 2016, driven “his assigned [city] vehicle out of New York State on 28 occasions, for multiple days at a time, with many of the trips to areas of Coastal Maine, and used his vehicle outside of New York State on personal business for 90 calendar days . . . approximately 24.6 percent of the calendar year.”  A New York mayor oversees 26 major departments, from police to parks. Not all his appointments will turn out to be sound. Under Mayor Michael Bloom­berg, Finance Commissioner Martha Stark fell under scrutiny for, among other problems, keeping on board a deputy commissioner’s spouse after he was found to have billed the city for hours he hadn’t worked. She resigned soon afterward.  Bloomberg’s administration also had to use the legal system to recover hundreds of millions of dollars stolen via kickbacks for the CityTime payroll-upgrade project.  Mayor Rudy Giuliani showed questionable judgment in hiring the son of a political ally to run the Housing Department: Russell Harding was later charged with embezzlement and child pornography. And under ’80s-era Mayor Ed Koch, the top transportation official and much of his team resigned amid a bribery scandal that also led to the suicide of the Queens borough president. But it’s hard to remember any of these mayors outright defending corruption. In fact, Koch later said that scandals on his watch plunged him into severe depression.

Since de Blasio Was Let Go By the Manhattan DA Who Said His Lawyer Lobbyists Gave Him Bad Advice the Mayor is Using the Epstein's Mother Quotes For Everything Including DCA's Ponte 
The mayor argued there’s a difference between someone who “willfully, purposefully sought out to cheat the government and cheat the taxpayer” and someone who “did it by accident” — though the city’s laws don’t make such a distinction, and it’s unclear that any other city workers punished for using city cars meant to cheat the city.

A Tale of Two City Car Rules: Ponte Vs All Other City Workers Both the Post and Daily News Want Ponte Fired

The city's ethics board might be trolling Bill de Blasio (NYP) The city’s ethics board trolled Mayor de Blasio on Twitter Tuesday in nine separate posts pointing out that city workers who misused their city vehicles were slapped with hefty fines.  The postings came just four days after de Blasio defended Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte for running up 18,500 miles of personal use on his official city vehicle last year in jaunts to Maine and elsewhere, claiming he had gotten bad advice that it OK.  Ponte on Monday agreed to reimburse the city for $1,043 in gas charges as well as $746 in toll charges.  But he has suffered no other consequences, thus far.  Lower-level city workers weren’t as lucky. Joel Lemaitre, a community and fleet coordinator with the New York City Housing Authority, was slapped with a 10-day suspension that will cost him $2,222, the Conflicts Board announced Tuesday.  Lemaitre’s offense: he used a Housing Authority car to travel to Pier I Imports in Freeport, L.I. on Nov. 27, 2015 so he and his mom could buy a chair.  He then drove his mother home with the new chair.  Lemaitre, who earns $57,556, was also placed on a one-year “probationary evaluation period” could be fired for any other infraction.  The ethics board also penalized two Sanitation Department workers for taking their truck off their route so one of them could meet a contractor at his home.  The meeting on Oct. 18, 2016, lasted 34 minutes.  “So yeah, don’t use a City vehicle for a non-City purpose,” the Conflicts-of-Interest Board concluded.  The Conflicts Board publicized each of the punishments in separate Twitter messages, along with another case where a worker at the Department of Youth and Community Development was fined $1,000 and 4 days pay for using his city computer for an outside business.  Last week, de Blasio defended Ponte as an outstanding jails boss and said he did nothing wrong because he was advised he could use an official vehicle at will.  “I have absolute faith in Commissioner Ponte,” de Blasio told WNYC radio on Friday.* Jails chief Joe Ponte’s abuses should cost him his job (NYP)  * New York City Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte should lose his job for using his city car for unsanctioned trips to Maine instead of just paying the city back for the 18,500 miles he logged over 90 days, the Post writes.  * No ordinary Joe: Ponte avoids punishment for using a citycar while small fry get whacked (NYDN Ed)  * Rank-and-file city employees hit with penalties,suspensions for personal use of work cars (NYDN)

Hizzoner insisted the DOI did not have a “Perfect Vantage Point” when it issued a detailed report ripping Department of Correction head Joseph Ponte and other senior staffers for routinely misusing official vehicles for personal travel.  “It is as simple as this: The Department of Investigation — they, like any other agency, are going to have their views,” de Blasio said during his weekly appearance on WNYC radio. “No one has a perfect vantage point on things that happen.” The mayor failed to mention that the DOI’s “views” were based on a thorough investigation that involved mapping more than 24.5 million GPS data points to track Ponte and other Correction Department honchos.De Blasio’s lunatic defense of out-of-town Joe Ponte (NYP) Mayor de Blasio is so intent on going to the mat defending Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte’s blatant abuse of a city vehicle and frequent absences from work that he’s now trashing his own investigators for blowing the whistle.  The city Department of Investigation does not have “a perfect vantage point on things that happen,” the mayor claimed Friday on Brian Lehrer’s radio show.  As if professional investigators don’t know how to, you know, investigate.  As for the DOI probe that uncovered the abuse by Ponte and his subordinates: That’s just “their views,” said de Blasio.  Well, “views” backed up by evidence like the GPS and toll records and credit-card receipts. Is that proof supposed to look different from a different “vantage point”?  The mayor must believe his DOI isn’t doing its job right unless it gives his commissioners a free pass for their errant behavior — as de Blasio does himself.

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