By: Ilana Siyance
NYC mayoral longshot, Curtis Sliwa, called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to “spend a week on Rikers Island” to witness the mayhem that is happening there, amid severe staff shortages. As reported by the NY Post, on Sunday, the Republican candidate, and founder of the Guardian Angels, delivered a letter to a security guard outside Gracie Mansion, address to the mayor, with the heading “Mayor De Blasio time to visit ‘The Rock’”.
“He hasn’t been to Rikers in four years, and refuses to go,” said Sliwa, who spent time behind bars at Rikers in the 1980s. “It’s total anarchy and chaos on Rikers Island. This mayor does not want to go there, to The Rock.”
De Blasio’s last visit to the city’s jail was reportedly in June 2017. In the letter, Sliwa blasts the mayor for wasting time at concerts, volleyball games and the Staten Island Yankees rather than devoting his attention to the problems ailing the city’s notorious jail. “Your job as Mayor now requires that you spend a week on Rikers Island,” Sliwa wrote. “Do your job, go to Rikers Island this week, don’t be afraid. Your NYPD armed security force will protect you.” Attached in the letter were gruesome pictures of two wounded correction officers, who suffered severe bruises and slashes on their face. “It’s time to make Rkers [sic] safe for correctional officers and inmates,” wrote Sliwa.
Sliwa also blasted how correction officers have been forced to work triple and quadruple shifts recently to make up for the staffing shortage plaguing the jail. “Even third world jails don’t force their correctional officers 2 straight shifts”, he wrote, calling the conditions “inhumane”.
On Thursday, Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi conceded that Rikers was experiencing “serious problems”. Just hours before the statement, the Post had exposed video clips which showed three prisoners attacking another inmate, and a group of inmates partying uninhibited in a cell. Mayor de Blasio has a $8.7 billion plan to shutter Rikers Island completely by Aug. 2027, and replace it with four smaller jails in the four boroughs, with Staten Island as the exception.
The city’s Department of Correction replied, in regards to the staffing shortage, saying that it hired a telemarketing firm to call recent retirees to try to convincing them to come back to work.