The tattered banner says it all.
The Four Boroughs, New York
It was just over a year ago, when retired judge Johnathon Lippman and his professional peers compiled a study citing the horrid conditions regarding criminal impunity among inmates and correction officers, human rights violations and the myriad violent conditions in the environment in Rikers Island to justify it’s shutdown. After incessant publicity and promotion by fauxgressive figures like Mayor de Blasio, former speaker Melissa Mark-Viverto and various tag-along liberal sops in city council; Governor Andy Cuomo signed into law to raise the age for getting charged as an adult for minor offenses and major crimes to 17 years old (to be raised to 18 in 2019) leading to transferring of over 90 young inmates to the Horizon Juvenile Center in the South Bronx on the first of October.
With such a rare humanitarian gesture from state government towards the prison population, what could possibly go wrong. Well, a day later and the first second when the kids went through the front door of Horizon, everything did.
In a grotesque result of what happens when the bleeding hearts of well-off liberals lead to brain hemorrages, all of the teenage males took their new found limited freedom and attacked all the corrections officers appointed to watch over them. Leading to twenty of the C.O’s getting hospitalized for injuries. The majority of the kids showed visible delight knowing that the guards were not equipped with pepper spray and handcuffs, because they were denied these defensive accessories according the newly signed law. Which certainly inspired the kids to throw desks around and break windows. One scamp even took a guards uniform shirt and wore it.The kids also utilized all the free unrestricted space to reassemble their gangs and reignite their street rivalries and brawl with each other.
As for the rationale behind the lack of gratitude shown towards being held in an optically better facility from where they came, it wasn’t like the kids didn’t warn them of what was going to go down:
While stationed at Rikers, the injured officer said the teen inmates taunted Corrections staff about what would happen once they were transferred to the Bronx facility and working unarmed.
“They said ‘just wait until we get to Horizon,’” said the injured officer, who was reassigned to the 90-inmate juvenile facility when the teens were moved.
This led the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association union leader, the benevolent Elias Muhammed, to rightfully imply I told you so:
“They aren’t turnstile jumpers, the open container crowd. These are gang-bangers. They are here for robbery, attempted murder and murder.”
The chaos barely even settled down as the kids kept being surly and uncooperative every day since the tranfer as 17 more C.O.’s and even two captains were attacked by the kids.
Calling the reactions to the anarchy that has broke loose at Horizon by the ones driving the Rikers Shutdown as haughtily tone-deaf is literally understating it. As the bruises and broken bones from these altercations were still fresh that the usual suspects that induced this stupid transference went into spinning dervish mode.
“Beginning today, no one under 18 will go to Rikers Island,” tweeted Mayor de Blasio. “Kids will be treated like kids instead of adults. This is an historic moment for criminal justice reform and another step toward replacing Rikers Island with smaller, safer, more humane facilities.”
Gov. Cuomo also tweeted Monday, writing “As of today, NY’s Raise the Age Law is now in effect. This law raises the age of criminal responsibility, removes 16-year-olds from the adult criminal justice system, and prohibits 16- & 17-year-olds from being housed at Rikers Island. A big step forward for our justice system.”
“All 16- and 17-year-olds have been transferred from Rikers Island to Horizon Detention Center,” said ACS spokeswoman Chanel Caraway. “We are in a transitionary period for a historic reform that’s never been done before and there have been some incidents involving youth and officers, which were quickly addressed. None of the injuries were serious, but we take these and all incidents seriously.”
That last statement was a doozy, for it leads open the suspicion that Ms. Caraway has never felt of even seen a broken bone or surface wound. But the damning thing about this is that this transfer was under the purview of the Administration Of Children’s Services. Which is a wonder why they didn’t send guards from that government office and laid the care and security of the center on the Department Of Corrections. Certainly that may have driven the young inmates to go giddy at the prospect of getting some sort of revenge on their former captors.
Another thing about the Horizon transfer is why wasn’t the near billion dollar mental health program THRIVE run by de Blasio’s wife and co-mayor Chirlane was somehow not involved in this? Being that the reason behind this transfer was to get them away from the mentally traumatizing environment in the cells of Rikers. But the answer to that is that even the officials in those government offices knew damn well of the potential danger lied ahead if they sent their counselors there and obviously did not want to risk injury or even death. Despite all the alleged empathy behind this transfer and the Rikers shutdown in general is the obvious concern and fear knowing how those 90+ formerly incarcerated kids will violently react.
If there has been some actual progress in this nascent stage of criminal rehabilitation is that the city finally acknowledged that they had to make conditions safer at Horizon by bolting down the desks so the gangbangers don’t weaponize them and fogging the windows so they don’t see each other (even though they definitely are aware of each others existence, duh.)
Meanwhile, as Horizon is currently and temporarily faded into the background, plan b of the city’s mentally mad Rikers closing is gathering methane releasing steam with the building of new prisons in neighborhoods in the boroughs except for Staten Island (which with the failure of the ferris wheel, they actually have prime real estate to glom for a prison there). And it will also be understating how contentious (although utterly inspiring) the reactions of the communities from those towns are.
What started in a scarcely reported city hall meeting scarcely meaning that it was closed to the press and public that was only with by a tweet, in what can be derived of being under the impaired influence from the Lippman Study and the still unmentioned pernicious influence of big time real estate investors and the lobbying involved from both entities, the city wants to build smaller prisons in the metropolitan areas of Kew Gardens, Queens; Downtown Brooklyn; Chinatown, Manhattan, and bizarrely and most inappropriately on a residential street corner in Mott Haven in the Bronx.
The unmistakable fury and abject objections for the city’s tactless and crass plans to place jails was dominant in recent hearings in Kew Gardens and Mott Haven. And why wouldn’t it, because like every other ill-thought policy that comes from and is induced onto the constituency from de Blasio’s city hall city planners and (whoever the new agents of the city are) is executed by stealth and with arrogance and disingenuous self-righteous blather. For example, the neighborhood jail plan draft was initiated in a secret meeting in city hall among officials and some persons of interest that was closed to the public and reporters according to a tweet by a writer from Gothamist, then the draft was disseminated to reporters hours later. (Foul fact, when that cityblog folded, de Blasio arranged a meeting with them for some bullshit discussion but mostly to bloviate what a progressive icon he is.)
And what a draft it is. Because you see, the plan is to not just put prisons in residential areas. Oh no, your fucking city wants to place prisons where criminals will be serving long sentences in towers. Towers ranging from 20 to 40 stories! Because you see, the city and obviously the unmentioned caring folks from real estate and development, want to integrate unsightly prisons with residential living and commerce by having apartments built with them and stores to shop or restaurants to dine in.
Take this dumbshit rendering please and shove it up your neoliberal asses.
It seems the reason for these stylish glossy penitentiaries is so it seamlessly and aesthetically blends in with all the other glossy towers that have arose in Brooklyn and Manhattan and the presence of towers will hopefully spur high market speculation in Kew Gardens and Mott Haven (leading to pestilent gentrification). But it mostly gives the impression that the neoliberal powers that be think that towers and the vector of upscale living it emits will be able to camoflage the inconvenient truth about the existence of crime and criminals. Just like the rationale that affordable housing can only exist with luxury tower development, resulting mostly in camoflaging the existence of destitution and homelessness. On the subject of affordable housing, these towers with jails will also conveniently yet slightly speed up de Blasio’s bogus affordable housing program in a way too since it doesn’t take much thought to speculate that no one would pay market rate to live in the same building with convicts milling around the lower floors. And judging by the fury of the citizenry of these targeted areas, those people obviously wouldn’t want to live there either.
These spanking new jails are suppose to materialize only if the prison population decreases to 5000. Which is a super tall order considering that major crimes like murder and rape have had incremental increases and all other crimes like grand larceny, assault and battery and burglary have remained steady.
But damn if these big brainiacs in their elected, exalted government jobs and a clueless, oblivious heiress and her non-profit operation aren’t going to stop trying to fulfill this #Rikersshutdown mission in spite of tax-paying residents rejections and the inevitable societal malaise that will occur.
That heiress would be Kerry Kennedy and her foundation. Who has put up five million dollars to post bail for women prisoners in Rikers and even those ultraviolent kids in Horizon despite prior arrests and serving time for attempted murder, robbery and assault. Which those teenagers committed again immediately on Horizon’s admission day . One female convict and recidivist criminal who held up a sex shop at knifepoint that Kerry’s foundation bailed out by contributing $25,000, didn’t show up at her court hearing to ensure her new found charitable freedom.
Then there was a murder committed by a man who scored a plea dea by D.A. Cy Vance after he was charged for possessing an illegal gun. Just a week and a day after Vance’s way too trusting decision, that man got involved in a street hassle with another man on the street and chase him down and shot him in cold blood.
Another thing these fauxgressive intellectuals like Lippman, Kennedy, and progressive issue bandwagon jumpers and stowaways like de Blasio and Cuomo don’t get or even acknowledge are the people, the victims of the crimes committed at them from these kids and adults. Victims of a rape, robbery, burglary, assault and murder of course are being violated of their human rights too. Which is hard to conceive by people isolated in the upper echelons of society and class and those elected officials daily protected by an entourage of cops. And deep down they know it’s a fact, because before the transfers of juvenile delinquents to the Bronx and these obligatory bullshit town hall hearings for the boro prisons, the city’s commitment to upgrade and renovate Rikers Island to make it handicap accessible is still going on at the cost of 50 million dollars.
And even de Blasio is not immune from his fears (and he has many this man is a giant coward) of the presence of these inmates as well as the existence of crime itself. When the weak ass mayor decided to hold a press conference at the 40th Pct. back in July, he ordered that prisoners detained in the cells there be moved to the 41st Pct. across town. The illogical logistics led to the latter Pct. forced to assemble a command post outside of their station to handle the load of new arrests, being that the 40th has seen a large rise of crime in that district.
The cognitive dissonance and brazen hypocrisy by him as well as the other suspects mentioned here shows that these plans have no basis in reality or common sense and is irresponsible. But mostly incompatible with the towns they want to dump these prisons on and even on the inmates they purport to help. The corrections officers and the citizenry are extremely right to reject these programs.
Bo Deitl, during his disruptive, incorrigible and juvenile behavior during the mayoral debates around this time last year made the best observation about Rikers Island: “Why don’t we fix what we got”. That sentiment desperately still needs to be applied here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to help these convicts and make certain that they are dwelling in a safe environment during their incarceration. After all, prisoners have rights. But these reform plans and the officials minds that concocted and executing them, along with the rationales behind them are as hardheaded and maladjusted as most of the kids that rioted the first day at Horizon and any recidivist criminal continuing to commit crimes on the streets against the citizenry.