July 30, 2014

Rikers Corruption Probe Nets Seven

As discussed here in a July 9 post, New York City's Department of Investigation has been engaged in an intensive and detailed probe into misconduct inside the City's largest jail complex, Rikers Island. As discussed then -- following the arrest of three officers for assaulting an inmate and then lying to cover it up -- DOI Commissioner Mark Peters acknowledged “a pattern of lawless conduct at Rikers that must be brought under control.” Peters promised more to come, and he wasn't kidding.

According to the NY Times, there appears to be multiple investigations into different criminal activities and conspiracies throughout the institution, and certain guards have turned up dirty more than once. For instance, corrections officers Steven Dominguez and Infinite Divine Rahming were arrested in June on a series of charges relating to contraband smuggling and corruption, and were being held at Rikers, albeit on the other side of the bars. Yesterday, they were arraigned on new charges, including allegations of trafficking and smuggling such as cocaine and oxydone. Similarly, Deleon Gifth, a retired guard, was charged Monday with similar crimes that were discovered during a operation. A captain and three other guards were also found to be involved in smuggling contraband, and were referred for disciplinary proceedings. Their names were not reported.

The problems at Rikers appear to be numerous and wide-ranging. There is evidence of rampant brutality, coupled with the obligation post-assault fabrication of evidence, as well the guards' complicity in drug smuggling and facilitating the criminal sale and distribution of various contraband items by inmates. How badly the institution has been infected remains to be seen, and the jury is still out on whether the corruption can really be rooted out or eliminated.

The Times articles on Rikers by Michael Schwirtz and Michael Winerip have been excellent and anyone interested in the ongoing crisis at inside the City's Department of Corrections ought to keep notes.

More to follow, I suspect.

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