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Mayor Adams appoints new jails commissioner in attempt to sway judge from federal takeover of Rikers Island

Adams appoints new jails commissioner to sway judge
Adams appoints new jails commissioner to sway judge 02:06

NEW YORK -- With the threat of a federal takeover looming, Mayor Eric Adams on Friday appointed a new Department of Correction commissioner to run the troubled Rikers Island jail complex. 

Adams handed the correction commissioner's badge to Lynelle Maginley-Liddie, hoping the appointment will help convince a judge not to appoint a federal receiver to run Rikers. 

"We are willing to sit down with the special monitor. We're willing to sit down will all those who are involved, with the City Council members, all those who are involved, and say we have to fix the Department of Correction. This is an opportunity to do so," said Adams. 

With his approval rating at record lows and New Yorkers questioning his stewardship of the city, Adams has a lot riding on this.  Throwing the jails into receivership would be yet another blow, even if the chaos at Rikers is a problem he inherited. 

"I cannot emphasize enough, this place has been broken for decades," said Adams, who insisted he's made progress toward fixing Rikers. 

Maginley-Liddie has been with the department for eight years, most recently as first deputy. She insisted she has a good working relationship with the federal monitor who has issued blistering reports about the chaos, poor facilities and dysfunction at Rikers, which opened in 1932. 

"The receivership, it's not a foregone conclusion," said Maginley-Liddie. "What I will tell the court is what we are going to do in terms of continued reforms." 

"Show me a successful receivership in the country. Show me where someone has come in and they have taken over and they've fixed the systems. And so we're saying to everyone that's involved, we want the challenge," said Adams. 

The Legal Aid Society, one of the groups demanding a receiver, called on the new commissioner to take immediate steps to fix the health and safety risks to the over 6,000 inmates at Rikers.

But the group also said, "the current deteriorated state of the Department of Correction is well past the ability of a single commissioner to correct." 

A receivership decision could be months away. Court papers, both pro and con, are not expected to be filed until early in 2024. 

Outgoing Correction Commissioner Louis Molina was named assistant deputy mayor for Public Safety

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