Watch CBS News

Mayor De Blasio Announces Emergency Plan For Rikers Island After Wave Of Violence

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In the face of mounting pressure, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday outlined an emergency plan to address the crisis on Rikers Island.

This after lawmakers and advocates toured the jail on Monday and witnessed deteriorating conditions and even an attempted suicide.

But critics told CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas the plan does not go far enough.

The mayor can no longer wait for Rikers Island's impending closure to address decades-old problems, especially since 10 detainees have died in custody since December and deplorable living conditions have led to mounting violence.

"Everything goes back to the problem of Rikers Island, itself," de Blasio said. "We need to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible."

The mayor's emergency plan includes:

  • Reopening once-shuttered areas on Rikers to ease overcrowding and better process detainees.
  • Deploying the NYPD to staff the courts, shifting correction officers to the jail.
  • Expediting the fixing of broken cell doors and cleaning.
  • Addressing widespread sick-outs of correction officers by requiring a doctors note, and punishing those who don't show up without warning.

"Any staff member who is AWOL will be held accountable with a 30-day suspension without pay," de Blasio said.

WATCH: Mayor De Blasio Announces Emergency Plan For Rikers 

In response, the correction officers' union called on the mayor to resign, saying it has been years since he visited the jail. It added the ballooning jail population held on more violent offenses has lead to officers being "assaulted in record numbers because he refuses to keep them safe."

"He failed to make a commitment to de-carcerating Rikers Island. He has power right now to release over 225 people," policy attorney Martin LaFalce said.

Advocates say releasing low-level offenders into supervised programs, like what was done during the height of the pandemic, is the only way to make a radical change.

Both the mayor and governor could make that happen with the stroke of a pen. Instead, the mayor continues to take aim at the courts.

"Every additional trial would change the situation," de Blasio said.

Court administrators likened the criticism to the captain of the Titanic blaming the iceberg, adding Rikers detainees are not being transported to hearings or given access to their attorneys, stalling the process sometimes for months, and it's all having a devastating impact.

On Wednesday, the City Council's Criminal Justice Committee will have a hearing with stakeholders, and learn more about how the mayor's plan will be implemented, along with its impact.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.