Rikers Island accidentally frees burglar after 2,000 employees called in sick under dangerous conditions
Rikers Island prison staff accidentally released an inmate who was serving a day into his 20-month sentence, just days before nearly 25 percent of New York prison staff called in sick amid dangerous and chaotic working conditions.
Jason Dauble, 35, left Rikers Island on Sept. 11, a day after he was sentenced to two consecutive 10-month sentences for breaking and entering three different Staten Island restaurants, prison documents state.
The error was not reported until September 13, and Dauble was arrested on September 14, just two blocks from the businesses he was the victim of, the New York Post reports.
A source at the prison told the Post that the staffing problem and the current chaos at Rikers had led to Dauble’s release.
“It’s often the case that the intake staff has no experience because of the staff shortages and they hold someone there,” said a source in the prison. “They don’t know where to look, they don’t know the papers.”
Staffing problems at New York’s Rikers Island Prison have reportedly led to staffers accidentally releasing a serial burglar last Friday
Nearly 2,000 of the more than 8,000 employees at Rikers fell ill on Tuesday
Dauble was originally charged with 15 counts of burglary, grand theft, criminal mischief, petty theft and possession of stolen property.
He returned to Rikers the same day, nearly 2,000 of the more than 8,000 workers took a sick day, leaving dozens of units without officers checking and assisting the inmates, Department of Corrections chief of staff Dana Wax said during a city council hearing of the United States. New York on Wednesday.
‘Of the 8,370 uniformed conscripts, 1,789 were sick yesterday. 112 of them were recently ill meaning it was their first day out… 68 staff were on a personal emergency, 93 were at fault meaning they didn’t let us know they wouldn’t be coming that day,” she said.
The crackdown came a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan to address the problems on Rikers Island and punish AWOL correction officers.
DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said last week that an average of more than 1,400 officers were sick in August, which is more than double compared to the same time last year.
Under orders from Mayor Bill de Blasio, the DOC handed out suspensions to 20 of the officers who failed to show up on Tuesday.
During Wednesday’s hearing, DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi blamed deteriorating conditions at Rikers on the skyrocketing absence of officers.
“This is the direct cause of more dangerous conditions in Rikers, and that is completely unacceptable,” he said.
The commissioner promised to hand out bonuses to the agents who showed up for each shift, and even to run extra shifts to make up for the staff shortage.
“They are the heroes who have held the line in these challenging times,” he said.
Benny Boscio, president of the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association, slammed de Blasio over the suspensions, blaming the unfolding crisis on a staff freeze, even as the number of inmates at Rikers has doubled.
“More heavy-handed suspensions will only keep officers working three and four shifts without meals and without rest,” Boscio argued.
Boscio called de Blasio a “dictator” and called on him to step down for punishing overworked agents who work double and triple shifts in unsafe working conditions, Fox Business reports.
During his daily press conference on Tuesday, the mayor unveiled a five-point plan to deal with the plight of Rikers Island.
“We understand it’s hard work and a difficult environment, but folks, not showing up to work is unacceptable,” de Blasio said of the absent correction officers. “And if an officer doesn’t show up for work, they’re actually endangering every other officer, and that’s not acceptable.
Under the mayor’s Emergency Rikers Relief Plan, any DOC officer who takes a sick leave for more than a day must undergo a medical evaluation and provide a doctor’s note, or receive a 30-day suspension.
De Blasio’s contingency plan also includes bringing in NYPD officers to work for the courts to ease the burden on DOC officers; speeding up the intake process on Rikers Island; hiring contractors to clean up the jail and make necessary repairs, and hire additional medical providers “to make sure all offices are on duty that should be on duty,” the mayor said.
The mayor rolled out his plan a day after a group of state lawmakers toured Rikers Island calling it a “horror home of abuse and neglect,” with one politician saying he witnessed a suicide attempt.
New York Senator Jessica Ramos says she witnessed a man attempt to hang himself during a tour of the infamous Rikers Island prison.
“I can’t begin to tell you the deplorable conditions we’ve seen in OBCC,” she told reporters. ‘There are at least a dozen men in one of the intake rooms – per cell.
The infamous prison is littered with “guck,” dead cockroaches, feces and rotting food, she said, describing the “deplorable” conditions.
Other human rights violations included a transgender woman who was locked up with men, an HIV-positive man who was denied his medication, diabetics who were not given insulin and workers who worked 24 hours a day, politicians said.
“It’s inhumane for everyone here,” González-Rojas told reporters. “People said to me, ‘I feel like a slave. I feel like an animal. I am treated like an animal.”’
Alice Fontier, director of Neighborhood Defender Service, recalls on her most recent tour of the facility, she saw people sitting in intake cells for weeks, without access to a phone or their lawyers.
A two-by-six-foot shower is used as a separate intake unit, she said, and inmates are given a plastic bag to use as a toilet.
A plan to close and replace Rikers with several smaller prisons was approved in 2019, but that won’t happen until 2026.