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Don’t Blame Our Corrections Officers

Our men and women who honorably serve as Correction Officers on Rikers Island have been unfairly besmirched and tarnished by the mayor and City Council for conditions of neglect that have been on going for years.
I know this first hand, since as an attorney for over 27 years I have made countless trips to Rikers to meet with my clients. Yet, the hypocrites in government never go inside Rikers, but hold staged press conferences outside criticizing and attacking Correction Officers.
Rikers Island has always been a “Third World” jail since there have been no significant investment in the infrastructure and network of the prison since its creation.
Medical and mental counseling services have become abysmal at Rikers. With the onslaught of COVID-19, the city failed to provide safety to prisoners and Correction Officers by not providing adequate PPE or hiring the requisite staff.
The dangerous conditions at Rikers is only magnified by the array of gang members who initiate membership and unleash brutal terror in the system. Anyone who is familiar with Rikers knows that it is the most dangerous place in the city.
Now our leaders in government want to release the most dangerous criminals on to our streets by closing Rikers and endangering our communities. Many of our elected officials want to eliminate police and jails with the belief that social workers will solve society’s evils.
Our elected officials who attack the hardworking members of the Corrections Department should look at themselves in the mirror and realize that it is the government of New York City that has failed the prisoners and officers at Rikers.
They have unleashed a crime wave on the people of this city by praising criminals and attacking our law enforcement officers, making their jobs impossible.

John J. Ciafone is an attorney practicing in Astoria.

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