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NYC closes facility on Rikers Island due to staffing crisis

The Justice Department will “immediately” close a residential facility on Rikers Island amid an agency-wide staffing crisis that has created deplorable and unsafe conditions in the prison’s reception building, internal records released Friday show.

The Otis Bantum Correctional Facility, which held 152 people in early June, will close Friday to allow DOC staff to relocate to other facilities in the troubled prison complex, DOC Commissioner Louis Molina announced in an internal memo Friday morning.

“Effective immediately, we will be shutting down facility operations at … OBCC. The closure of OBCC will allow us to redeploy staff as needed, consolidate and streamline operations, enhance security and better serve those in custody,” Molina wrote in the memo provided by The Post became.

“Both uniformed and non-uniformed personnel are being reassigned to other facilities where they are most needed.”

The news comes three days after the Board of Corrections revealed that the prison’s reception unit at the Eric M. Taylor Center is beset with problems, including the same violations that forced the last reception building to close nine months ago.

Riker's Island
The DOC announced it would close Otis Bantum Correctional Facility due to staff shortages and unsafe conditions.
AFP via Getty Images

A board member who visited EMTC said more than a hundred “screaming men” were crammed into pens for days while waiting to be assigned a housing unit, a process the DOC must complete within 24 hours.

Detainees had limited access to bathrooms, medicines, phone calls and transport to court due to staffing issues at the admissions unit, board members said.

Meanwhile, most new DOC shots haven’t undergone body scans upon arrival to look for drugs, weapons or other contraband because there aren’t enough trained staff to do the job, board members said.

Otis Bantum Correctional Facility held 152 people in June.
Otis Bantum Correctional Facility held 152 people in June.
Most new DOC recordings are not body scanned to look for weapons and drugs due to staff shortages.
Most new DOC recordings are not body scanned to look for weapons and drugs due to staff shortages.

Now that OBCC is closing, staff who manned the facility may be transferred to EMTC to resolve the issues.

Molina acknowledged in his Friday memo that the announcement was “possibly … unexpected,” but the agency believes it’s “the best way forward.”

Rumors of the facility’s closure began to rumble through the prison on Thursday, as staff began seeing inmates being moved to other facilities.

Riker's Island
The closure came shortly after the DOC admitted that the Eric M. Taylor Center is riddled with problems, including overcrowding.

A senior prison source complained that admission operations should be moved to each housing unit, rather than having an admission-only facility.

“Once you open an entire prison, you need a lot of staff to run that prison. Not only in the residential areas do you need staff to walk in the corridors [recreation]to run the clinic, mental health, kitchen, sanitation, everything. We don’t have the staff to do that,” the source said.

“Any inmate can just go to the jail they’re assigned to and go through the admissions process at their jail…that’s how you solve the problem.”

https://nypost.com/2022/06/17/nyc-closing-rikers-island-facility-over-staffing-crisis/ NYC closes facility on Rikers Island due to staffing crisis

JACLYN DIAZ

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