NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Kathy Hochul is taking more steps to alleviate the crisis on Rikers Island as Mayor Bill de Blasio faces mounting criticism about what he did not do during his trip to the jail complex.
As CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports, Hochul yet again used the power of her pen to address the crisis on Rikers Island.READ MORE: Mayor De Blasio Visits Rikers Island Amid Mounting Pressure To Address Conditions For Inmates, Correction Officers
This time, she expanded the availability of remote court hearings to help resolve cases faster for the vast majority of detainees being held pre-trial.
This comes after widespread staffing shortages prevented many detainees from being transported to their hearings, stalling the process.
In a tweet, the governor said, “We cannot stand by and idly watch as this situation continues to unravel.”
And I have committed to providing additional resources to increase video capacity as necessary.
We cannot stand by and idly watch as this situation continues to unravel. We will continue to take action and encourage all of our partners in government to do the same.
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) September 28, 2021
It’s a move that will help reduce the jail population.
“With the actions we’re going to take now, with the state especially, we’re going to reduce population a lot more. We’re going to get that population under 5,000 soon,” de Blasio said.
A population the mayor didn’t speak to during his tour of the jail complex Monday.
The mayor is defending that choice, along with not engaging correction officers.READ MORE: NYC Congressional Representatives Call On President Biden To Intervene In Rikers Island Crisis
“I’ve, over the years, have talked to inmates, have talked to folks who were in Rikers as inmates, have talked to officers. I have a pretty strong understanding of the extent of the problems,” he said.
“How do you not come here in four years and you don’t ask a correction officer their working conditions? How are you doing today? You gotta be kidding me,” said Benny Boscio Jr., president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.
The correction officers union blasted the mayor.
In a statement, they said in part, if he had spoken to them, “maybe he would hear that our female officers are regularly sexually assaulted by inmates with impunity. Maybe he would even see the tears roll down the faces of our officers who are physically and mentally exhausted by working triple shifts without meals and sometimes sleeping in their cars in the parking lot of Rikers.”
Still, de Blasio remains steadfast in the face of ongoing criticism that his way is working.
As for the governor, she’s exploring additional ways to speed up the hearing process, but she’s also encouraging fellow lawmakers to do their part.
The federal monitor, which has written scathing reports about the conditions on Rikers Island, has struck a deal with the city about mandated improvements.MORE NEWS: Family Members Of Those On Rikers Island, Former Inmates Say The Problems At The Floating Jail Are Very Real
There will be a hearing later this week in front of a judge.