Rikers Officials Are Torturing Children, City Council Members Say
October 8, 2014 - accent chair
At a City Council conference progressing today, Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte was asked to comment for a conditions of a roughly 250 inmates in his control underneath a age of 18 who live within a “deep-seated enlightenment of violence,” where guards use force opposite scarcely 50% of a race with impunity, according to a DOJ news expelled in August. “There’s zero in that news we remonstrate with,” Ponte testified.
Ponte was allocated in Mar by Mayor de Blasio with 40 years of corrections believe and a repute as a reformer. He entered his pursuit as reports of invalid deaths and a savagery and insufficiency of certain Correction officers became near-weekly occurrences.
In August, Gothamist published a report on a teenagers who are thrown in unique capture on Rikers Island and spend 23 hours in a cell, suicidal and all yet deserted by a state. Earlier this month The New Yorker wrote about Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old who spent 3 years on Rikers Island on a fraudulent spoliation charge, and served scarcely 800 days in unique confinement, where he too attempted to kill himself.
“Officials on Rikers subjected this child to torture. There’s no other approach to put it,” Councilmember Daniel Dromm told Ponte during today’s hearing. “I am troubled by what happened to Kalief.”
Ponte, who speaks in a thick Boston accent, testified that “life [on Rikers] for 16 and 17-year-olds is opposite currently than it was 6 months ago,” and remarkable that use of force opposite minors underneath a age of 18 forsaken from 30 to 40 incidents per month final year to 19 for a past dual month of 2014, in vast partial since 18-year-olds were private from a youthful apprehension facility.
While observant that Correction officers had a right to “protect themselves and keep themselves safe,” Ponte vowed to retaliate those who abused their authority.
“Any box of extreme force needs to aver a many serious discipline,” he said.
Commissioner Joseph Ponte during today’s hearing, center, blue tie (Gothamist)
“When somebody splashes an officer, does that clear use of force?” asked Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, a chair of a Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, referring to incidents when inmates chuck urine or feces onto jail staff.
“If a inmates are in a contained place, like their cell, there is no need for use of force,” he replied.
Ponte also betrothed during slightest 400 some-more notice cameras to cover areas where Correction officers competence be tempted to abuse inmates, steady his guarantee to phase out unique capture for all juveniles by 2015, and pronounced he privately upheld legislation that would give 16 and 17-year-olds youthful standing underneath a law. Currently, North Carolina is a usually other state in a kinship to incarcerate 16-year-olds as adults.
Ponte also pronounced he was looking for a place to pierce juveniles off of Rikers Island, a preference that de Blasio against in August even yet it was endorsed by a Department of Justice in their report. “We’d be in preference of that if we find a suitable site,” Ponte said. “We will continue to try other buildings we’re actively doing that.”
Though he testified that he was operative closely with a Department of Justice to pull adult a allotment agreement to safeguard that a polite rights of youthful detainees on Rikers Island would no longer be violated, Councilmember Crowley and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito continued to doubt Ponte’s joining to changing a enlightenment in a jail.
Last month the Times reported that dual Correction officials, William Clemons and Turhan Gumusdere, were both promoted by Ponte in May, notwithstanding justification of a breeze of a 2012 inner review display that they both committed a “complete abdication” of their duties, and doctored reports of assault in a jail. The Department of Investigation also endorsed that a dual be demoted.
“In a attempts to unequivocally spin this group around to make a changes, a systemic changes that unequivocally need to be made, do we unequivocally consider it was suitable to not usually keep these people on board, yet to foster them?” an dubious Speaker Mark-Viverito asked.
“Yes,” Ponte replied, explaining that a group were gifted and had finished good work, to his knowledge.
“The news that we reviewed when we promoted them was not a news you’re reading from,” Ponte replied, but revelation that a news itself was found to be inaccurate.
Clemons is now Deputy Chief, a top ranking uniformed officer in a department, so because wasn’t he during today’s hearing?
According to Ponte, “He’s on a long-planned vacation.”