Two days after New York City corrections officers appear to have deliberately delayed the transport of pretrial detainees from Rikers Island to scheduled court hearings, the Department of Correction says it is looking into the incident but has not yet taken action.
A spokesman for the state court system confirmed there appeared to be delays transporting inmates from Rikers on Monday and Tuesday. Defense attorneys said the delay was a deliberate job action by the city correction officers’ union.
The transportation delays meant judges had to reschedule numerous hearings. Some people accused – but not convicted – of a crime could spend more time behind bars before their day in court.
“When the defendants are not being produced, it means a defendant has to spend that much longer incarcerated, so it affects everybody,” said Jonathan Goltzman, an attorney who represents a defendant that missed a court date as a result of the action. He said his client’s scheduled court date was pushed back a month as a result of Monday’s turmoil.
A spokesman for the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association did not return calls for comment. The slow-down comes a week after two corrections officers went on trial for allegedly covering up the beating of an inmate. That trial was adjourned on Tuesday and is set to resume Dec. 5.
The city Department of Correction said in a prepared statement: "We’re taking this very seriously and looking into it, and we will be taking appropriate action.” A spokesman declined to provide additional information.
A spokesman for Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt did not respond to a request for comment. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg deflected questions about the issue.
“I have no idea about Rikers Island,” Bloomberg said at an unrelated appearance on Wednesday announcing that Carnegie Mellon University would open a campus at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
With reporting by Arun Venugopal and Stephen Nessen.