Following Ambush of Rikers Guard, BP Adams and COBA President Husamudeen Call on City to Reform Corrections Policy for Disciplining Violent Offenders

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BROOKLYN, NY, February 14, 2018: Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Corrections Officers Benevolent Association (COBA) President Elias Husamudeen called on the City to reform its corrections policy for disciplining violent offenders, specifically asking for a reexamination of its approach to ending punitive segregation for all inmates 21 years old and under, including non-violent and violent inmates alike.

This call came in the wake of Saturday’s brutal ambush of Jean Souffrant, a guard at the George Motchan Detention Center on Rikers Island, by four inmates who are all under 21 and are awaiting trials on charges including a number of violent crimes; Souffrant suffered bleeding on his brain and a fractured spine near his neck. Borough President Adams, a 22-year veteran of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), discussed the need to advance both justice and safety as dual imperatives, just as Raise the Age legislation achieved on the state level last year in carving out violent offenders.

“I refuse to accept an either-or proposition between justice and safety; the same people who try to make us choose between these two imperatives in our jails are the same who said we can only have better policing or safer streets,” said Borough President Adams. “We have to make jails safer for both corrections officers and non-violent offenders. We must combat gangs on our cell blocks with the same fervor as we combat gangs on our city blocks.”

Borough President Adams and COBA President Husamudeen, joined by more than a dozen union members outside the Brooklyn Detention Complex in Downtown Brooklyn, noted the security risk that jail violence poses to corrections officers, inmates, as well as the general population; inmate-on-inmate slashing and stabbing incidents were up 26 percent last year compared to 2016.

“I applaud Borough President Adams for taking a firm position on this issue on behalf of our corrections officers,” said COBA President Husamudeen. “Punitive segregation is a jail within a jail — it gives us the ability to segregate the violent inmates from the rest of the inmates by removing them from the general population, so that they do not have the ability to assault the officers or other inmates. If this was happening on the city’s streets, it would not be tolerated. As corrections officers, we deserve the same respect as all other officers in the NYPD.”