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Union Boss Blasts Selection Of Incoming NYC Jails Commissioner Joseph Ponte

Riker Island (file/credit: Getty Images)

Riker Island (file/credit: Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The head of New York City’s powerful 9,000-member correction officers’ union has blasted the mayor’s pick to run the nation’s second-largest jail system.

Norman Seabrook said Thursday in a fiery press conference that the Correction Department doesn’t need a non-New Yorker known as a reformer to run city jails.

But that’s exactly who Mayor Bill de Blasio picked to head the jail system. Joseph Ponte last ran corrections in Maine, where he was credited with reducing that state’s use of solitary confinement. He starts Monday.

Seabrook warned that ending solitary confinement for inmates who break jailhouse rules will lead to increased violence and possibly the death of an officer.

The DOC said safety is a top priority.

Ponte released a statement saying: “As a longtime correction official, I value experience of professionals like Norman Seabrook and look forward to discussing any issues of concern he would like to bring forward.”

At a news conference last month discussing the death of an inmate who baked to death in his cell, de Blasio touted Ponte’s credentials.

“He is someone who has taken on very troubled situations on jail systems and had success,” the mayor said. “He’s going to join us quite soon and we know we have to make some serious reforms.”

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