De Blasio Appoints Acting Commissioner to Head New York City Jails

Mayor Bill De Blasio discusses NYPD mobile communications in 2014
Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin New York

After months of searching around the country for a new correction commissioner, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that he had found the person to head the Correction Department, which oversees the troubled Rikers Island jail complex, from within its own ranks.

Mr. de Blasio said the agency would be led by Cynthia Brann, the acting commissioner who, like the former commissioner Joseph Ponte, came to New York City from Maine. She replaced Mr. Ponte on a temporary basis after his departure in June.

The Correction Department is still plagued by persistent episodes of violence by some inmates and staff at Rikers Island, where a raft of reforms, federal oversight and steady investment have yet to create a stable atmosphere. The department has also been tasked by Mr. de Blasio with making changes that, along with reforms across a range of law enforcement agencies and courts, would result in the closing of Rikers Island as a jail complex after 10 years.

Glenn E. Martin, who has led protests in favor of closing Rikers, said in a statement that City Hall should have hired an outside candidate for commissioner and that the choice of a current city correction official “suggests that the mayor still fails to grasp the urgency of shuttering New York’s torture island.”
 The head of the correction officers union, Elias Husamudeen, said Ms. Brann had a front-row seat to the “failed reform policies of her predecessor,” and he expressed hope that she “will listen to the concerns and recommendations of the men and women who serve on the front lines of the city’s jails.”
[Courtesy of J. DAVID GOODMAN  from NY Times]

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