Unpersuaded by the city’s efforts to improve conditions at Rikers Island, a federal judge has said she will hear arguments over a possible federal takeover of the jails.
“The defendants have not yet shown me that they are willing and able to make the rapid, radical changes in the administration of the jails that are necessary to protect the people,” U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain said in a court conference on Thursday.
Swain said the Department of Correction has not signaled that it appreciates the “thorough and dynamic change that is necessary.”
The monitoring team tasked with overseeing improvements at Rikers said correction officials’ efforts so far constitute “little more than window dressing.” They have shown increased reluctance to share information, specifically regarding staffing numbers.
“This appears to be yet another attempt for the department to evade transparency with the monitoring team,” said Anna Friedberg, the deputy monitor overseeing Rikers.
In the court proceeding, Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina said his team has reduced assaults and violence in jails that were “left to flounder for years” before Mayor Eric Adams inherited them.
“We have been rebuilding this department and making unprecedented progress since the apex of this crisis,” he said.