As two advisory groups fail, US attorney says enough
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As two advisory groups fail, US attorney says enough

Add Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams to the list of those who federal courts appoint a receiver to run Rikers Island;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “>demand that the federal courts appoint a receiver to run Rikers Island. That was his conclusion on Mondayas the problems at the city jail keep piling up.

How bad is it at the Department of Corrections? Considering that back-to-back days reporters flagged the failures of two different advisory bodies for DOC. Stories published by our own Graham Rayman Sunday and The City’s Reuven Blau yesterday point out the lack of movement on the parts of the Local Conditional Release Commission and Major Adams’ Rikers Island task force, respectively.

The commission was reestablished in 2020 with the goal of recommending early release for people serving short sentences in city jails, while the task force was formed by Adams more than a year ago to issue concrete recommendations about how the city can best comply with the federal court settlement and orders to make Rikers safer for both people in custody and staff.

The latter eight-member group at least exists and has allegedly met, though produced no public reports or recommendations. The commission, henceforth, had its first three members appointed last year and has seen no progress on appointing the last two members and actually convening, more than three years after it was created by the City Council. In theory, the two bodies could both reduce the Riker’s population and make conditions better for those who remain. In practice, they don’t seem to be doing much of anything.

In both cases, the administration seems to be defaulting to its “trust us” approach to governing Rikers, which has never held much water but especially not after a string of Rikers failures. That entreaty will be cold comfort to the family of William Johnstone, who is on Saturday rikers-detainee-dies-sixth-death-in-nyc-correction-custody-this-year” data-ylk=”slk:became the sixth person to die;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “>became the sixth person to die at Rikers this year.

The Department of Justice, represented by Williams, has had enough. Rikers doesn’t need any more studies or another task force, but a federal receiver.

Manhattan Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain has the last word. It’s a big step to take away control, but it must happen.

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