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Prisoners say Warden calms Rikers’ young adult prison, but guards balk

Sneakers are worn when things are tense in the young adult residential area of ​​Robert N. Dowelen Complex Prison on Rikers Island.

Children between the ages of 18 and 21 who live there may believe that they must be ready to fight or run.

But recently, they are wearing slippers, said one recently released young man.

“It’s more comfortable,” a 20-year-old woman from Brownsville told THE CITY. Life behind the bar is better, he said, “when we all get together.”

According to statistics, the facility is one of the city’s most violent facilities in the Correction Department and is the center of a dramatic transformation led by Warden Joe Caputo, who was in charge of May 2019.

However, some prison officers and their unions under him are less obsessed with his approach, including a mentorship program with older prisoners.

According to the latest recently released federal surveillance report on city prisons, 30% of prison officers used force cases against prisoners between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. Diminished.

At the Davolen Complex, assaults on staff who were seriously injured during the same period were reduced by 56.4% and prisoner battles were reduced by 28.2%.

The reduction in violence in the youth adult section occurs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This reduced the population, but since March prisoners in the remaining cities have been deprived of their loved ones’ visits.

Programming for young people is also depleted, with sessions on topics such as literacy, creative arts, and conflict resolution canceled, favoring “voluntary resources.”

It was also a time of record highs in violence across the city’s prison system, according to federal surveillance.

The 40-year-old Capto took a novel approach for the Rikers to 741 detainees in his facility. He spends his time talking to the young people in captivity there and even playing basketball with them.

“He often goes here,” 21-year-old Prakash Churaman told THE CITY in a telephone interview from Rikers Island. “He believes in the program. He rarely sees jailers talking to prisoners. He listens to what we have to say.”

“Life is not over”

As part of his efforts to curb violence, Capto, as a mentor, involved a trio of older detainees preaching peace to young adults.

Speaking from prison, mentor Stephen Pommy told THE CITY that he was aiming to keep young men in the Davolen Complex away from violence, both in prison and in his hometown.

“No elder explains to them that you are not in war,” he said. “And this is what we are trying to invent, the realm of unity.”

A 38-year-old from Brooklyn, Pommy wants to foster intergenerational connections behind the bar, as he said is often overlooked in the streets.

“If I live in a building on 95th Street, my friend James lives in a building on 95th Street, we grow up together, we are trapped and our sons are there, they make each other You don’t need to know, “he said. “But if we were there, we could have told our sons,’We are friends, don’t fight, you’re friends, don’t fight.’ And you know that these kids don’t have elders who don’t tell us anything about it. “

“You don’t want your child to be the next child to be killed in the street,” he added.

Pommy is awaiting trial for a felony that forces prostitution and associated trafficking, but he denies it.

The Robert N. Davolen Center on Rikers Island is home to men aged 18-21.
Courtesy of the Correction Bureau

According to a recently released 20-year-old man, Pomy and fellow senior prisoners Michael Ross and James Quadon often had a calming effect on a discouraged young man.

“They tell people,’We feel me at a positive timing, not at a negative timing? We’re not doing that negative thing — t, y’all chillout ‘” He said. “We will relax, paying the respect we have gained for them.”

Pommier, also known as P-Gutta, helped the smooth tension between him and another young prisoner until the two young men recorded the song together, he said.

“We’re not at home, we’re angry, so our thinking is negative — we’re trapped, so we’re in jail, so we’re negative all day long,” he said. “But P-Gutta, he’s talking to us and trying to enlighten the day, do you feel me? Life isn’t over, life isn’t over here.”

Rank and file ranking

The mentorship program and Caputo’s leadership style have been attacked by unions representing city prison officers.

The Prison Officer Charity Association said he was furious at Capto’s choice of Pomy and allegedly assaulted a prison officer who claimed he had closed the door of her residential area and struck her right forearm and shoulder Said he was facing.

According to court documents, she had two fractures in her right forearm, numbness, bruising, and “significant pain.” Pommy has denied the charges.

Pommy’s choice as a mentor is “an example of a textbook of management failures in our department,” said COBA President Benny Bosio Jr.

“Instead of putting members of the gang directly responsible for the surge in prison violence in our facility in the soap box, the department should immediately disband the gang,” he added.

After Capto circulated notes about the mentor program in October and the prison officers’ union expressed anger, the Department of Corrections canceled daily news notes that would allow mentors to enter young people’s residential areas and talk to people. Was done.

“My only thing is the people who make it seem bad, what are your options?” Pommy said. “If you have no other choice, what are you proposing, will you return to violence?”

According to people at the facility, Capto also slowly began to associate with prisoners who were members of rival factions during recreational activities, a change in high stakes.

According to internal records, the Department of Corrections has long separated alleged members of various gangs to prevent combat.

“It’s the least resistant path,” said Joe Russo, Deputy Assistant Secretary / Chairman of the Association of Deputy Secretaries of this practice.

However, he added that the setting “wraps around prisoners” and creates small territories that try to rule prisons and ignore officers’ orders.

Through his union, Capto from Staten Island, his father’s retired deputy secretary, refused to talk to THE CITY because of the ministry’s strict media policies.

People familiar with the system say the tradition of gangsters’ residence of people in prisons, which city officials have long denied, will further establish gang affiliation and contribute to increased violence when people are released.

“He has arguably the most effective watchman,” said Russo, Capto’s leading union. The Dabolen Complex “was a disaster before he got there.”

Capto was born and raised on Staten Island. His father, Vincent Capto, is a retired deputy secretary who led the ministry’s proud ambulance crew.

Awkward history of prisons

The Davolen Complex suffers from a history of violence and death.

According to court records, in 2008, members of the Bloods gang were killed after 18-year-old Christopher Robinson refused to comply with their orders.

Investigations into his death revealed that members of the gang were being represented by prison officials to bring other detainees under control through a system called a “program.”

According to the Daily News, a 19-year-old prisoner filed a federal proceeding on Monday alleging that a similar program called the “World Tour” was still underway at the facility and other facilities operated by the Correctional Authority.

Detainee Jomoni Morris claims to have been retaliated in 2018 after a dispute with a corrector at the Davolen Complex. In April he was transferred to another facility, where he was cut off by fellow prisoners, the proceedings said.

During the De Blasio administration, many of the youngest detainees who fought most often were transferred to other facilities, including the Brooklyn detention center, as records show.

However, since Brooklyn’s lockup was closed earlier this year, it has slowly withdrawn as part of a plan to close Rikers Island and replace it with four new facilities in all areas except Staten Island.

Prisoners say Warden calms Rikers’ young adult prison, but guards balk

Source link Prisoners say Warden calms Rikers’ young adult prison, but guards balk

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