Department of Correction Commissioner Dora B. Schriro denied reports that a fight club exists within Rikers Island in which inmates impose their own violent system of order.
“There is no program,” Schriro told WNYC on Wednesday, saying the term had been manufactured by the press.
The Village Voice's Graham Rayman, citing internal department documents, reported the practice known as The Program — in which correction officers pit inmates against one another — is still thriving at the prison. The paper first reported on the practice in 2008.
When asked about reports of systemic violence among teen inmates, Schriro said jailed adolescents are “more inclined to fight” but are just as likely as those in the general population to be violent.
“We have challenges,” she said, “the same challenges that every correctional system has.”
The beating death of Christopher Robinson, 18, who was held on a parole violation in 2008, sparked a DOC investigation that resulted in the conviction of two guards for their role in the incident.
Though the department said it took steps to fix the problem, sources told the Voice that the practice is still ongoing.