‘Give them the benefit of the doubt’

Mayor Adams on Wednesday vowed to give Corrections Department officials the “benefit of the doubt” when they step out of work despite concerns that hundreds of them are abusing the agency’s sick leave policy in a way that would affect Rikers Island. But rapidly increasing the deadly crisis.

Absence in DOC ranks during the pandemic has been a major problem for the city, with the administration of former mayor Bill de Blasio alleging that nearly 1,000 officials pretended illness to avoid going to work last year, worsening the situation , where at least 16 prisoners died. in 2021.

But, visiting Rikers on Wednesday afternoon, Adams told reporters that the de Blasio administration “didn’t support the Department of Corrections at every level” and claimed there had been too much investigation around officials who were sick.

“It’s the only business where we’re asking, ‘Hey, are your members pretending to be sick?’ We’re not asking anyone else. We’re not asking the NYPD, we’re not asking H+H, we’re not asking school teachers,” Adams said, before adding: “There’s nothing wrong with that?

On the other hand, the mayor acknowledged that the DOC’s sick leave system has been abused – and called it “unacceptable”.

“But the vast majority of city employees who are sick are sick, and we would like to give them the benefit of the doubt until an investigation determines they are abusing the process,” he said.

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Adams’ full defense of the Rikers Guards comes on the heels of two inmates who died this week, bringing the city’s total custodial death toll this year to eight – two more than the same point in 2021. As first reported by the Greeley Tribune, a ninth inmate died on June 15, eight days after being hanged in a Bronx holding cell at a hospital, but the DOC did not treat his death as being in custody. Because he was given a “compassionate release” upon his death.

Meyer, who was on Rikers to announce that the DOC had seized 2,700 weapons and other banned substances this year, suggested that some of this year’s deaths were the result of inmates with “pre-existing conditions” or otherwise poor health. May be.

“By the time people reach Rikers, their health is already bad,” he said.

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The Legal Aid Society, one of the city’s largest public protest groups, called Adams’ explanation for the prisoner’s death “stupid” and focused its attention on restricted seizures at a time when the DOC’s absence was still an issue. appears to be the issue.

“This is symbolic of how City Hall treats imprisoned people as second-class citizens until proven innocent and deserving of compassion,” the group said in a statement.

“While Mayor Adams makes these press announcements, people inside prisons are not supervised as staff continue to stay home from work and basic prison services remain in limbo. The extraordinarily high death rate under Mayor Adams’ watch, and the suffering of all those who are kept in the unsanitary conditions inside, pose a humanitarian crisis that this administration is unable to rectify any time soon. ,

At least 827 officers were caught violating sick leave rules between July 2021 and this past January, according to an investigation by the Department of Corrections’ internal watchdog. The investigation found that more than 2,800 officers were sick daily – 35% of the entire staff.

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DOC commissioner Louis Molina, who joined Adams for Wednesday’s recurse event, said absenteeism rates have improved, but confirmed that about 900 officers remain ill on any given day.

He said he had no reason to believe that any of them were rigging the system.

“I don’t have any evidence right now that someone is making it fake,” the commissioner said.

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Adams’ recursion visit comes after a New York judge last month declined to place the island under federal receivership, instead asking the city to reconsider the issue in November before the prison crisis. ordered to come up with a plan to solve.

The judge’s decision came after the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan raised the possibility of appointing an independent federal monitor to run the prison, arguing that the city had failed to improve the conditions of the infamous lockup over the years.

Adams reiterated in his remarks on Wednesday that he does not want a federal takeover.

“The crisis we are facing here is one of our biggest. We could have easily raised our hands and said, ‘Let the federal government take over.’ We could have done it easily, but no, we know we’re better than this.” “We know we can fix this problem.”

Vincent Shiraldi, de Blasio’s last DOC commissioner, who has been critical of Adams’ handling of Rikers, pointed to the rising prisoner mortality rate as a sign that the prison would eventually end up under federal control.

“Do we really need to wait until November?” He wrote on Twitter.

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