NYC’s Rikers Island Prison Faces ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ Amid Staff Shortages

Correction officers' union blames Mayor de Blasio for 'horrific conditions'

Mayor Bill de Blasio along with Acting Deputy Commissioner of Youthful Offenders, Adult Programming and Community Partnerships Winette Saunders-Halyard and Department Correction Commissioner Joe Ponte, tours and meets with youth at Second Chance Housing on Rikers Island on December 17, 2014 in New York City. / Getty Images
• September 9, 2021 2:00 pm


Staffing shortages at Rikers Island have caused a "humanitarian crisis" at New York City's largest jail, the New York Post reported Thursday.

Inmates are attacking each other and partying in jail cells as guardposts go unmanned, according to the Post. Several inmates have also overdosed on synthetic drugs such as fentanyl—24-year-old Esias Johnson died of an apparent overdose just last week, marking the 10th inmate death in the facility since January. Correction Officers' Benevolent Association president Benny Boscio Jr. blamed the deteriorating situation on Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying the Democrat's negligence has precipitated a "humanitarian crisis."

"The number of Correction Officers has dwindled down to less than 7,600, including the nearly 1,300 Correction Officers who have resigned since 2019 because of the horrific conditions Mayor de Blasio's negligence has created," Boscio told the Post. "Thanks to his gross mismanagement, we are unable to conduct facility searches for weapons and drugs, inmates aren't getting their required services, officers, nurses, doctors, and civilians are getting assaulted with impunity."

In recent weeks, New York City's Department of Correction has scrambled to hire officers to staff Rikers, hiring telemarketers to recruit retirees back to work.

De Blasio faced criticism for his city's crime spike last year when he defunded the New York City Police Department by $1 billion.

Published under: Defund the Police, Prison