Adams and Molina made waves when asked about the Department of Correction’s future plans for solitary confinement on Rikers, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported.READ MORE: As Staffing Shortage On Rikers Island Remains Big Concern, Vaccine Deadline For NYC Correction Officers Expires
Once sworn in, Molina will become the DOC’s first Latino commissioner.
“After graduating from Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx, I served four years in the United States Marine Corps,” Molina said.
From there, Molina had a 20-year career in law enforcement, most recently serving as chief of the Las Vegas Department of Public Safety for the past year. He is a former NYPD officer and deputy commissioner for the Westchester County Department of Correction.
“I bring a unique perspective to this role. Not only because of the breadth of my experience, but also because members of my family have been involved in the criminal justice system,” Molina said.
Molina will oversee the city’s 10 jail facilities, including Rikers Island, where another detainee died this week.
“Rikers Island has been a national embarrassment and we have ignored it,” said Adams. “It is a stain on our city.”
Sixteen detainees have died at Rikers in 2021 so far – the most since 2013. The facility has about 9,000 correction officers and 5,000 inmates.READ MORE: Mayor De Blasio Mulling COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate For NYPD, FDNY, Department Of Correction
Adams said reforms are needed now, even though the facility is slated to close in 2027 and be replaced with four smaller jails. While Mayor Bill de Blasio is moving detainees out of solitary confinement by Dec. 31, Adams wants to restore some form of it on Rikers.
“You can have segregation without it being inhumane,” Adams said.
“There are violent people, a percentage on Rikers Island, and we need a method and restrictive housing solution for them,” Molina said.
The Legal Aid Society wants the plan retracted. A statement said in part, “This proposal throws away years of progress undoing the physical and mental harms caused by solitary confinement… ”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s entire jail system saw a spike in deaths, violence, self-harm and staff shortages.
The Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association clashed with the de Blasio administration. Its president said they’ve been “put through hell,” but that it’s looking forward to working with Molina to “restore safety, security, and sanity in our jails… ”
For his part, Molina said he’s always partnered with labor leaders and advocacy groups.
“Morale is very, very important especially when you’re leading a paramilitary organization,” Molina said.MORE NEWS: Public Defenders, Inmate Advocates Sound Off As More Detainees Are Sent To Troubled Rikers Island
Molina said he wants to establish programs that help people transition out of the criminal justice system to become more productive members of society, like he did in Westchester.