His visit followed detainee deaths, violence and widespread staff shortages, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.READ MORE: Statue Of Liberty Celebrates 135th Birthday
“The mission for me today is to come and see the specific changes that are being made,” de Blasio said.
With chaos brewing for months on Rikers Island, reaching a violent and deadly crescendo, the mayor went to see the conditions firsthand in an effort to send the message that he has it under control.
De Blasio said addressing overcrowding, bringing in backup from the NYPD and the impending end to 24-hour shifts for correction officers are part of recent policies.
A new state law has reduced the jail population by more than 600 additional detainees in just weeks, he said.
“We gotta reduce the inmate population. So, I was looking at the places where that reduction is happening, what it is causing in terms of improving the situation for officers and inmates alike,” de Blasio said. “Our goal is to get overall population down under 5,000.”
A coalition of clergy members gathered in the Bronx asking for assistance to help detainees who are coming home.
“We want to make sure that the resources for housing, jobs, education, health care are present,” said Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church.READ MORE: Flight Attendant Attacked By Passenger, Flight From New York's JFK To John Wayne Airport Diverts To Denver
While the mayor touted progress, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “I still believe that there’s a lot more work that needs to be done.”
Heastie and Councilman Kevin Riley got a different perspective on their tour.
“We saw inmates who were beaten, battered. We saw inmates who were sleeping underneath toilets. We saw correctional officers who looked out of it because it looked like they’d been on … triple, double shifts,” Riley said.
State lawmakers will take up the issue regarding conditions on Rikers Island on Friday. Heastie said examining funding could help.
“When you look at trying to deal with addiction and the mental health issues that many of the detainees may have, I think resources can always be at the heart of that,” Heastie said.
But the buck stops with de Blasio, who is under immense pressure to better address this latest crisis.
De Blasio did not speak with detainees during the visit. He said he was there to see how his policies were being implemented.MORE NEWS: FDNY Union To Protest NYC Vaccine Mandate Thursday Outside Gracie Mansion
The union representing correction officers said the mayor did not get the full scope of the conditions.