Inmates on Rikers Island are partying, brawling and fatally overdosing amid a staffing shortage, the New York Post reported on Thursday.
Over 30 guard posts were unmanned and around 20 officers were each manning three stations during two separate shifts on Sunday, Correction Captains’ Association President Patrick Ferraiuolo said, according to the Post. The staffing shortage has led to inmates being unsupervised for various amounts of time and throwing parties, getting into fights and overdosing on drugs.
“We have at least three medical emergencies a day from inmates doing drugs. I’m not sure what they’re taking but it’s definitely not marijuana,” an unnamed Rikers Island source told the Post. “I had a medical emergency in my housing area, the inmate was hallucinating and foaming at the mouth.”
“He was on the floor and the inmates were throwing water on him,” the source said, according to the Post. “For how long is unknown.”
The source said the inmates have been experimenting with a concoction of fentanyl and K2, a synthetic drug, the Post reported.
Video released by the Post showed inmates throwing a man onto a bed, who asked his assailants, “why the fuck are you fighting me for? I’m not a Brim!” The Blood Hound Brims were a subset of the Bloods street gang based in New York from around 2005 through 2016, according to the Department of Justice.
It’s unclear whether a correctional officer was monitoring the area when the brawl took place.
In another instance, a group of men posted a video appearing to show the inmates throwing a party in their jail cell, according to the Post. The men were smoking an unknown substance, dancing to rap music and drinking.
“Again, no officer on post,” an unnamed Rikers Island source told the Post. “This is regular in the jails now … Cellphones, money and drugs.”
Esias Johnson, 24, was found dead of an apparent overdose along with drug paraphernalia in the jail on Tuesday in an area that was under supervision by a correctional officer, the Post reported. Johnson was the 10th inmate to die at the facility in the last nine months.
Officers at the complex are stretched so thin they can’t conduct adequate searches meaning narcotics are easily smuggled into and used at the facility, according to the Post.
“Maintaining safety and security in New York City’s jails begins with maintaining proper staffing levels … the number of Correction Officers has dwindled down to less than 7,600, including the nearly 1,300 Correction Officers who have resigned since 2019 because of the horrific conditions Mayor [Bill] de Blasio’s negligence has created,” Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Benny Boscio Jr. told the Post.
“Thanks to his gross mismanagement, we are unable to conduct facility searches for weapons and drugs, inmates aren’t getting their required services, officers, nurses, doctors, and civilians are getting assaulted with impunity,” Boscio added, the Post reported.
Some 600 additional correctional officers are expected to start at Rikers Island next month, according to the Post.
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