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Jail board cancels meeting after Rikers inmates fracture CO's spine

The city’s Board of Correction has been repeatedly criticized as too inmate-friendly by the union representing COs


By Reuven Blau
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — In an unprecedented move, the city’s jail oversight board cancelled a regular meeting after a correction officer’s spine was fractured in a stunning attack by five inmates.

The city’s Board of Correction, which meets publicly nine times a year, has been repeatedly criticized as too inmate-friendly by the union representing jail officers.

In a June 20, 2014, file photo, the Rikers Island jail complex stands in New York with the Manhattan skyline in the background. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
In a June 20, 2014, file photo, the Rikers Island jail complex stands in New York with the Manhattan skyline in the background. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

On Monday, the board said it didn’t have any pressing votes scheduled for its public Tuesday meeting. Instead, it said it wanted to use the time to meet with jail brass and the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association “and other stakeholders to formulate a plan to address the serious safety and violence issues at Rikers that require immediate attention."

Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, said the union was planning to have over 100 members protest at that meeting.

“They knew we were coming,” he asserted.

The labor leader also contended that the mayor didn’t want any negative attention during de Blasio’s scheduled State of the City address on Tuesday.

The union refuses to meet with the board unless the gathering is open to the public, he added.

“We’ve been meeting with us for five years and nothing has come of it,” he said.

The board has pushed the city to end solitary confinement for younger inmates and to limit its use among other detainees. Research has shown solitary can exacerbate and even create behavioral problems that lead to violence, both inside the jails and when people return to the community.

But union leaders say their inability to isolate violent inmates has led to an increase in attacks.

On Saturday, inmate Steven Espinal punched Correction Officer Jean Souffrant in the face inside the George Motchan Detention Center at 6:27 p.m. — an attack that was caught on video.

Espinal, an alleged gang member facing murder charges, was upset Souffrant, 39, had earlier given him a disciplinary ticket, according to jail insiders.

During a phone call before the attack, he even bragged how he was going to “knock out this super cop,” the sources said.

Video showed that he was joined by four other alleged gang members during the attack.

All five are being hit with additional criminal charges.

©2018 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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