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NY jail board member calls union boss 'piece of s--t' in fiery public hearing
By: Reuven Blau - New York Daily News January 12, 18. 14:13

NEW YORK — Long-simmering tension between city correction officers and an oversight board accused of being inmate friendly erupted Tuesday, with a jail board member calling a union president "a piece of s--t" during a public hearing.

City Board of Correction member Steven Safyer lashed out at Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association. 

"He's a piece of s--t," Safyer, who heads Montefiore Health System, told fellow board member Michael Regan.

Husamudeen had just finished slamming Safyer and his eight fellow board members, charging they care more about the safety of inmates than officers.

"You guys are nothing but an advocacy group," Husamudeen fumed.

At the end of Tuesday's meeting, the union's lawyer threatened to file a complaint with the city's Commission on Human Rights if Safyer doesn't apologize.

"The lack of civility by at least one of your members deserves at least censure," said union attorney Marc Steier. "I'll give you to the end of the week."

Safyer, who didn't deny making the remark under his breath, responded, "I don't like being threatened."

The board -- which meets publicly nine times a year -- has oversight over the city's Department of Correction. It must approve any major policy changes and has successfully encouraged the department to reduce the number of inmates in solitary confinement. The board also requires the department to record how many inmates miss medical appointments.

The mayor appoints members, who serve six-year terms without pay. The board employs a small group of full-time paid investigators and support staff. Those employees regularly probe inmate complaints of officer abuses and create reports about issues like lockdowns and how inmates in solitary are being treated.

But violence has spiked over the past decade.

The city's three jail unions have in part blamed that rise on inmate activists and the board for restricting solitary confinement and other forms of inmate punishments, like the loss of visitor or phone privileges.

Husamudeen has been particularly upset at board members.

In one salvo last year, his union issued a glossy report that ripped some board members for missing the public meetings. Safyer failed to attend four meetings in 2016 and three last year, the report showed.

Still, it is not just the union taking the board to task.

In a rare public rebuke, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark last month called out the board after announcing the arrest of 15 inmates accused of a gang attack on a correction captain.

"I urge the Board of Correction to work with DOC to find a way to implement severe consequences for inmates who repeatedly assault other inmates and correction officers," she said. "They cannot continue to brutalize with impunity."

On Monday, a board spokesman defended the watchdog's work.

"The Board of Correction, an independent oversight agency, remains committed to working with all stakeholders, including COBA and DOC staff, to increase safety and improve conditions in the city's jails," spokesman Bennett Stein said. "Recent rules on preventing sexual abuse, reforming long-term segregation and Enhanced Supervision Housing reflect that commitment."

The union repping jail officers believes more can be done to protect staff.

Earlier Tuesday, the union sent a binder full of complaints from officers to a New York State jail oversight agency.

The more than 700 complaints detail incidents of inmates spitting and throwing feces at the officers. The officers also recorded multiple cases of physical assaults from inmates.

They compilation was mailed to the State Commission of Correction, which oversees the city's 12 jails and 54 state prisons. It assesses inmate deaths, policy changes and construction projects.

The agency -- which Gov. Cuomo appointees lead -- has scant prosecutorial power.

Still, the union hopes the state oversight agency will force the city Department of Correction to make policy changes that better protect officers.

 

 

Archive News

NEW YORK — Long-simmering tension between city correction officers and an oversight board accused of being inmate friendly erupted Tuesday, with a jail board member calling a union president "a piece of s--t" during a public hearing.

By: Reuven Blau - New York Daily News January 12, 18. 14:13

A self-proclaimed reformed gang member who counsels city inmates was busted trying to smuggle two razor blades into a jail on Rikers Island, the Daily News has learned.

By: REUVEN BLAU | NY DAILY NEWS January 11, 18. 9:26

Under an indictment announced last week, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office charged Jason Reid with organizing the attack after threatening to “cut” Capt. Awais Ghauri in early November, and then jumping him and repeatedly punching him while two fellow inmates joined in the brutal assault. A dozen other inmates, after grabbing a can of pepper spray from one officer, formed a wall between the assaulters and correction officers who rushed to the scene to prevent them from interfering with the beating, according to the indictment, which charges all 15 of them.

By: RICHARD STEIER December 19, 17. 10:50

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark did more than secure a solid indictment last week against 15 Rikers Island inmates who either hurled fists at a Department of Correction captain on Thanksgiving Day or, wielding stolen pepper spray, prevented other guards from coming to his aid.

By: NY DAILY NEWS Editorials December 18, 17. 10:17

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