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Monitor Says NYC's Rikers Jail Remains 'Unstable and Unsafe'

Despite New York City’s claims to have made progress in remedying the crisis on Rikers Island, the jail complex remains a place of violence and disorder fed by chronic staff absenteeism, according to a report filed in federal court. As of late January, one in three jailers had failed to show up to work, said a federal monitor overseeing reforms at the jail complex. That is roughly the same rate of absences as at the height of a crisis at the jail last year, when rates of violence soared, more than a dozen people died and many detainees were left to fend for themselves, reports the New York Times.

The report found that rates of violence remained high at Rikers, with January ranking as the second most violent month — measured by stabbings and slashings in the jails — since monitor Steve. Martin, was appointed. In many cases, Martin found that staff absenteeism created the conditions for the violence. Violent incidents, the report noted, “have become normalized and have seemingly lost their power to instill a sense of urgency among those with the power to make change,” adding in bolded text that the high rates of violence and use of force by officers “are not typical, they are not expected, they are not normal.” The report said that the rate of violence in the city’s jails was “seven to eight times higher” than rates observed in other correctional systems. The report was the first since Mayor Eric Adams took office. It found that under the leadership of his new correction commissioner, Louis Molina, the department remained “trapped in a state of persistent dysfunctionality,” and that the Rikers complex was “unstable and unsafe.”

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