In the last 12 years, the management in the Department of Correction has been a dismal failure. Unfortunately, NYC Correction Officers and uniformed managers have been made the scapegoat, because now the chickens have come home to roost, and blame for failure must be placed on someone. Over the years, and as recently as Aug. 26, Bronx DA Darcel Clark warned the city and department that when crimes were committed behind bars,“theremust be administrative toolsfor swift and certain punishment” and “we cannot prosecute our way out of this.” The jails are out of control because theMayor, City Council and other lawmakers have systematically removed all accountability from incarcerated people behind bars.

The Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations removed uniformed managers from decision-making levels and appointed Commissioners with no experience running a jail system, and sometimes even a jail. During that time, Correction Officers and uniformed managers were rarely consulted when attempting to institute programs, policies, and procedures inside the city jails.

It’s been more than 12 years since DOC had a Commissioner take a stand against City Hall when its directives had adverse effects on the agency. From2009–2021, the city hasspent tens ofmillions of dollars on consultants, and the jails areworse than they’ve ever been. It is the belief among the rank and file that the last four Commissioners gave up control of RikersIsland in return for a blip on a resume.

The decision-making has been given to outside agencies and watchdog groups. We have had the Mayor, City Council, Board of Correction, consultants, Federal monitor and reform organizations produce bad choices, creating the current crisis. Correction Officers, staff, and inmates have been subjected to rules and policies that sound good in the world of algorithms and politics, but aren’t practical in operating a large jail system. 

Correction Officers have seen new policies and procedures instituted by Commissioners who have absolutely no idea of
what cause and effectmeansin a jailsystemlike RikersIsland. To top it off, Correction Officers and uniformed managers have been forced to implement ideology disguised as rules and policies. There is a saying,“People don’t leave companies, they leave managers, and since 2009, the list of uniformed managers and line officers who left this agency is too long to list. The “Baby Boomer” generation that made up half of the uniformedworkforce has been retiring in large numbers, taking with themthe institutional knowledge of the DOCwhen it faced AIDS, H1N1, other communicable diseases, the crack epidemic, increasing incarcerations for “quality of life” crimes, and the explosion of gangsin the city. It faced these changes alongwith a rocky economy butsucceeded in not losing control of the jails.

Bottom Line: the next Mayor and Commissioner will have the daunting task of repairing a jail system neglected and mismanaged for the last 12 years.


Past President, Correction Officers’

Benevolent Association


There are indications that the pandemic is entering a new phase which will affect the city more than anyone can reasonably predict. And yet, the current realities of a $5.4-billion budget crisis, increased numbers of incarcerated individuals, and the continued loss of uniformed and non-uniformed Correction Department staff is being ignored.

The de Blasio administration is leaving the next administration in an Edward Koch and David Dinkinsscenario. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the War on Drugs/Crimes/Gangs left NYC jails unprepared for the influx of people incarcerated. Each administration was forced to hire and purchase jail barges to handle the overflow. The inmate population grew to 22,000, while the number of correction officers reached 12,000.

In October 2019, the City Council and Mayor agreed to close Rikers Island as a correctional facility by 2026 and open four new borough-based jails with a planned capacity of 3,300. this July 12, Mayor de Blasio said, “we’ve been able to close down another building at Rikers and therefore not need as many officers to cover the inmates we have.” The closing, decommissioning and transferring of Department of Correction facilities has removed 3,200 beds from the inventory of the incoming Mayor. There are also 1,297 damaged beds/cells, leaving the incoming administration with fewer than 1,912 usable beds for the detainee population.

Newly appointed Commissioner Schiraldi has ignored the 4-5-percent increase in the inmate population since his June 1 appointment. While the number of detainees continues to grow, DOC has lost 20 percent of its uniformed and non-uniformed staff because of unsafe conditions and questionable management.

The next mayoral administration is facing a $5.4-billion deficit, massive job losses and billions lost in tax revenues. Under the best circumstances, closing Rikers is going to be a complex undertaking. To spend $8.7 billion to build jails in
the face of that deficit is fiscally irresponsible. the incoming administration must reevaluate the closing of Rikers Island.

As New Yorkers call for safer streets, and both Democratic and Republican candidates focus on gun crimes and gang activity, it is expected that the jail population will increase 16-20 percent. The jail system cannot accommodate this increase. The population has increased 47.3 percent since July 2020, when it was 3,927. As of July 2021, the census
was 5,784. More than 85 percent of these individuals have felony charges; nearly 40 percent face “A” and “B” felony crimes. We can assume that if further changes are made to bail reform, there will be more arrests made. But the DOC is
ill-equipped to accommodate the push to get criminals off the street.

There is no way for the next administration to achieve social and economic development without addressing the unsafe environment in the streets and jails. the next Mayor cannot reduce crime by decree. However, he can help by ensuring that capacities of the jails can humanely contain wrongdoers.

Elias Husamudeen
Past President
Correction Officers’ Benevolent


Mayor de Blasio and his third Correction Commissioner find themselves in a unique position after nearly eight years in
which the department’s failures have overshadowed the successes. Although there’s been a reduction in the inmate
population and the use of punitive segregation, the overall safety in the jails has increased from 2013 and has gotten progressively worse each yearsince he’s been Mayor. Instead of focusing on reducing recidivism, producing rehabilitation and ending generational incarceration, de Blasio has been focused on building four new borough jails, and the shutdown of Rikers. He has paid lip service to the reduction of jail violence. His first Correction Commissioner, Joseph Ponte, wastasked with the elimination of punitive segregation under the guise of reform. 

The second, Cynthia Brann, was tasked with closing Rikers. Histhird commissioner, Vincent Schiraldi, has six months to reduce violence and bring reform. There are approximately 5,700 people in the city jails, with 78 housed in punitive segregation and 219 in alternative- to-punitive-segregation units. Thissmall number of incarcerated individuals, who are responsible for most of the violence in the jails, are known to all. Not all the violence in the jails is because of idleness. Much of it has to do with the business of the gangs in and out of the jails.

Schiraldi served as a senior adviser and was instrumental in implementing the Mayor’s criminal-justice reforms. The
coronavirus and changes in the law, as well as internal rules reduced the number of incarcerated individuals, but this
hasn’t reduced jail violence. The things street and jail crimes have in common are gangs, the mentally ill, the homeless and young adults. The last time the city jails experienced low numbers in violence, slashing and stabbings, and assaults against correction employees and other incarcerated individuals was in 2013. Will the new Commissioner recognize what insanity looks like and travel a new road to create safer jails?

In his first communication, Schiraldi said he would be based at RikersIsland “to be closer to the agency’s daily operations” and regularly walk through the jails“to see and hear from you firsthand how you think we can further improve conditions.” I’m sure he means well, but this is a corporate approach that was also taken by his predecessors. 

Here are two questions on everyone’s mind: When will the triple tours be resolved, and what is your plan to reduce violence? Don’t be afraid to use the words punitive, segregation and separation when addressing violent crimes committed behind bars. To critics who point out that he’s never run a jail system, he responded that he had never run a juvenile facility or probation department before doing so successfully in Washington, D.C. and New York. To that, Isay neither compares to running the largest penal system in the world. In his first month on the job, the violence continues to soar and  correction officers are still working 24-hour shifts.

Former President,
Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association