Open Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio

By: 
Elias Husamudeen

Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio,                                                                                                                                                        August 4, 2016

When six hundred and nine (609) Correction Officers are assaulted in a six (6) month period as the Department of Correction reported to the New York Times, this is not cause for celebration but a call to action. What the Department and City praise as substantial progress, we see as six hundred and nine (609) officers, men and women, who every day put their life on the line without adequate protection to prevent these assaults. What adds insult to these injuries, is the Department’s and City’s failure to acknowledge its lack of a strategic plan to ensure these violent inmates are not allowed to repeat their actions by placing them back in the same situation that allowed them to be assaultive in the first place. What the Department and the City cannot see is crystal clear to the Correction Officers and their Union.

The Department’s position, whether truly believed, or forced upon them by the Mayor’s office and the Board of Correction, in regards to the use of punitive segregation is simply put, dangerous to Correction Officers. The reduction of days, from ninety (90) to thirty (30), that an inmate can be placed in punitive segregation is ineffective to deter violent inmates from repeating their violent actions. To be clear, the COBA is not calling for the placement of inmates that violate Department rules into punitive segregation in every situation. While it is up to the Department to properly manage the agency and determine penalties for inmates who do not comply with the Department’s rules, there are certain offenses, such as an assault on a Correction Officer that must result in the assaultive inmate being placed in punitive segregation for a significant period of time. If after ninety (90) days in punitive segregation the inmates behavior hasn't changed or been modified, he/she should be turned over to the Department of Mental Health for evaluation and treatment. Without a more effective change in the use of punitive segregation, the COBA demands the following action be taken.

Effective immediately, any inmate who assaults a Correction Officer must be removed from the custody of the DOC and housed in another jurisdiction. Furthermore, it is our position that jurisdiction should be one that has, as a deterrent to violence, the full use of punitive segregation for assaultive inmates. Our demand is not made because Correction Officers do not want to perform their sworn  duties of  care, custody and control of the inmates detained by the Department. Our demand is not made because Correction Officers are not willing to adapt to new ideas or strategies in criminal justice reform. We are making this demand because the Department’s policies have created a dangerous environment and the current policies in place have not been effective in stopping the violence, in fact the violence has even gotten worse.

As you are aware the Department has historically sent inmates to other jurisdictions for various reasons and they should do so now since proving to be either unwilling or unable to protect Correction Officers. By this action, the Department and City would be sending a clear message to inmates that they do not have free reign to assault Correction Officers.

Enough is Enough

609 Correction Officers Assaulted During the first 6 Months of this Year!

According to New York City Mayor and other Public Officials this is something to brag about

Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Today’s numbers are a heartening sign that a culture of safety is taking hold throughout the Department.  Commissioner Ponte is showing the nation: we can run humane jails that keep our officers and inmates safe from harm.”

“The statistics released today substantiate our belief that – piece by piece – we can dismantle the culture of violence in City jails,” said Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

"Reforms aimed at reducing violence while reducing reliance on punitive segregation work, as these figures plainly demonstrate," said Council Member Daniel Dromm.

What the Department and the City cannot see is crystal clear to the Correction Officers and their union

What the Mayor and other Public Officials Consider “Progress”

We Consider it a Crime Wave

No one in their right mind should think it is acceptable that 609 law enforcement officers, nearly 5% of the ranks, were assaulted in the Bronx.  No other jurisdiction in the country would brag about these numbers. Despite City Hall and the Department touting these statistics, there are no real consequences for the crimes being committed behind bars. That’s why we’ve called for inmates who have attacked CO’s to be transferred out of New York City’s jail system to a facility with secure punitive segregation for the safety of officers.”  Elias Husamudeen, COBA President

 

BOTTOM LINE

Does a New York City Correction Officer have to be killed before the city of New York or the Department of Correction Takes action Against these inmates?

We Demand that you Take Action Before

a Correction Officer is Killed