De Blasio’s plan to shut down Rikers Island slammed by correction officers’ union head

By: 
ERIN DURKIN

The head of the correction officers' union slammed Mayor de Blasio's plan to shut down Rikers Island, saying it makes no sense to put jails in city neighborhoods.

"They want you to take your 5-year-old granddaughter and walk by a jail, so you can explain to her what these barbed wires are, and what this place is, and why it is there as she is going across the street to her school," Correction Officers' Benevolent Association president Elias Husamadeen said Sunday on the John Catsimatidis AM 979 radio show.

"It just makes no sense at all. And you have to ask yourself who stands to benefit."

De Blasio released a ten-year plan for shuttering Rikers last week, but did not choose sites for smaller jails to replace the troubled island complex.

He instead said that was a task for the City Council, even though four members who represent courthouse sites where jails might go have already said they're open to the idea.

But Husamadeen said it's safer to keep prisoners locked up at the more remote island location.

"The guy that shot the 5-year-old, you want him in a jail next door to the mother, to the father? You want him in the community, the one that raped the old lady? You want him next door?" he said.

"If five inmates escape, guess where they are — they're right on the streets. If five inmates escape out of one of the ten jails on Rikers Island, they're not in the community, they're on the island, and we're going to get them before they leave the island."

The union head noted that several members of the Lippman Commission, which was convened by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to come up with a roadmap for closing Rikers, were from the real estate industry.

"You kinda get the idea of who might be behind the shutting of Rikers Island," he said.

De Blasio's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.