What a Surprise

Matthew G. Saroff
3 min readJun 9, 2023

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The federal monitor of the Rikers’ Island jail has reported that the man that Eric Adams appointed to head the New York City jail system is covering up wrongdoing.

This is not a surprise. Eric Adams is arguably the most corrupt mayor of New York City in recent memory. (Giuliani’s corruption was largely post his time as mayor)

Adams has been appointing corrupt and incompetent cronies to positions of power, (at least when he is not appointing his relatives), and this was a foreseeable consequence of his becoming mayor:

A year and a half into Louis A. Molina’s tenure as New York City correction commissioner, the federal monitor overseeing the Rikers Island jail complex on Thursday took direct aim at his leadership, saying that the violence there remained unabated and that officials were hiding information about it.

“The commitment to effective collaboration, as evidenced by the department’s recent performance, has deteriorated,” the monitor, Steve J. Martin, wrote in a report filed in federal district court. “The department’s approach to reform has recently become characterized by inaccuracies and a lack of transparency.”

“These problems have grave consequences for the prospect of reform and eliminating the imminent risk of harm faced by incarcerated individuals and staff,” he added.

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Thursday’s monitoring report was issued as Mr. Molina was facing intense pressure to turn around one of the worst crises to grip Rikers Island in decades. Appointed by Mayor Eric Adams in January 2022, Mr. Molina inherited chronic absenteeism that had peaked during the coronavirus pandemic and soaring rates of violence and neglect at the jail complex.

More recently, he has had to battle calls for a federal takeover of Rikers Island, avoiding that fate last year in part by promising in federal court to follow a plan to enact reforms.

As scrutiny of his department has intensified, Mr. Molina has taken steps that limit the public release of potentially damaging information, revoking a jails oversight panel’s unrestricted access to video footage from Rikers Island and reversing his predecessor’s policy of notifying the public when deaths occur in custody.

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The clawing back of information from the public and failure to report deaths and serious injuries have drawn criticism, including from the City Council speaker, Adrienne Adams, who said in a statement last week that the council was considering “legislative solutions to address this administration’s backtracking on transparency and undermining of oversight.”

In a news conference after touring the Rikers Island facilities on Wednesday, Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate, and Brad Lander, the comptroller, said that they would formally call for a federal takeover of the complex.

Thursday’s monitoring report sounded an even more urgent alarm than the one issued in May, concluding that “the current state of affairs in the jails remains alarming, not just for the rampant violence and frequency with which force is used, but also because of regression in the department’s management.”

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Still, citing the findings of the monitor’s recent reports, advocates for people detained at Rikers Island were renewing their calls for a federal judge to strip Mr. Molina of control over the Correction Department and appoint a receiver to oversee the jails.

They said that Mr. Molina has obstructed the jail’s oversight bodies’ ability to know what’s happening on the inside, inflaming tensions and causing concern that problems were being hidden.

“This administration has not only wrought horrific levels of violence in the jails, but is increasingly authoritarian in seeking to shield its abuses from judicial and public oversight,” Mary Lynne Werlwas, director of the Prisoners’ Rights Project at the Legal Aid Society, said in a statement on Thursday, adding that reforming the jails should be “placed in the hands of a trustworthy, independent entity that can do what the Department of Correction is unwilling or unable to do.”

“Increasingly authoritarian,” is the brand that Eric Adams chose to win election.

This is why we are seeing brutality and coverups both in the NYPD and in the NYC correction system.

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