Rikers Island correction officers seen in negative light

Joli Eubanks | 10/23/2014, 1:14 p.m.
A report was released this week stating that a former Rikers Island inmate, Bishme Ayers, 25, was beaten and sodomized ...
Rikers Islands, New York.

Special to the AmNews

A report was released this week stating that a former Rikers Island inmate, Bishme Ayers, 25, was beaten and sodomized by a correction officer July 4 at Jacobi Medical Center. This is just the most recent incident in the flood of negative press Rikers Island correction officers are receiving.

In 2014, the cost of running the jails on Rikers Island increased to an all-time high of $1.1 billion. The number of inmates is the lowest it has been in decades, but the violence continues to worsen.

Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, explains the financial issues by stating, “Mismanagement under the last administration has to bear responsibility for the skyrocketing costs, along with frivolous lawsuits by inmates that the city continues to settle as opposed to defend, all continue to add to the cost of an agency that I have publicly and privately asked to reform, but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears.”

The management of the inmates is worse than the financial issues. A number of inmates have died as a result of mistreatment.

In regard to the behavior of the officers and the conditions at Rikers Island, Seabrook states, “There have been some correction officers that have crossed the line, and they have been punished, rightfully so. Correction officers are mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles, and some, like myself, have family members in the system. We are not abusive. We are not degenerates. We are professional law enforcement officers.”

He continues, “Rikers Island is the new dumping ground for this city. We have the homeless that no one is doing anything about, we have the innocent who spend a lifetime without a fair trial, we have the mentally ill that the City Council and Department of Mental Health continue to ignore and we have those that have openly admitted to murdering a 3-year-old baby. So I ask you, what do we do?”

Seabrook shows concern and gives a different perspective of Rikers Island. He explains how difficult it is to operate such a facility. Regardless, something has to be done to fix the problems. All correction officers are not corrupt, but the ones who are, are turning Rikers Island into hell for inmates and visitors a like.

The Department of Correction did not respond to an AmNews request for a comment by press time.