The staffing crisis at New York City’s troubled jail system has become so dire that many detainees aren’t getting to court, reports The City. Recently, only 34 out of 52 people with scheduled proceedings at Queens Criminal Court made it there from local lockups, and similar failures to transport detainees have plagued courthouses across the city. When four packed Correction Department buses were discovered waiting outside a facility on Rikers Island, it was due to staffers inside being too busy to get detainees off the buses.
More than 1,000 correction officers have been calling out sick on any given day over the past several months, forcing others to work double and sometimes triple shifts. Deaths and self-harm incidents are up among detainees, spurring an emergency report filed last month by a federal monitor, who declared “disorder and chaos” are roiling city jails. Mayor Bill de Blasio responded Tuesday by unveiling a five-point “Emergency Rikers Relief” plan that calls for moving NYPD officers to courts to free up correction officers stationed there to go back to Rikers Island and other city jails. The mayor said he plans to “toughen accountability for AWOL staffers” with automatic 30-day suspensions for people who don’t show up for work. City correction officers have “unlimited” sick leave and can stay out for as long as medically necessary. Jail advocates slammed the mayor’s plan, arguing that the only way to ease the crisis is to free hundreds of people facing low-level offenses