Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Crooked Rikers Correctional Officer Arrested

A Correctional Officer from New York City's main jail, Riker's Island, was found today with a significant amount of synthetic marijuana and number of scalpels, and intent to smuggle them into the jail to sell to inmates.  He has been arrested and faces various drug-related criminal charges, such as encouraging prison contraband. There are now 51 members of Rikers staff who have been arrested or sent for discipline since reforms targeted towards officer corruption were placed in 2014.  Some believe that the activities of dirty officers smuggling may be correlated to slashing and stabbing attacks at Rikers.

I think Officer McKoy abused his power as a CO, a position that here gives him freedom to transport items to the inmates who have little other options if they want to participate in these illicit activities. A variety of laws aim to prevent similar police abuses of power, including the 4th Amendment and various technicalities regarding the proper method of obtaining evidence and other seizures. The large quantity of contraband McKoy was in possession of (>350g organic/synthetic marijuana, cocaine, loose tobacco, etc) suggests that he had established a decent business selling to inmates, and that the security at Rikers is incredibly poor, maying further suggesting weaknesses in this area of the justice system.


1.  Can anything else be done to discourage officer misconduct? Tougher background checks/requirements?

2.  What are other problems with the current state of the correctional system? Opinions on it as a whole?

Article and Photos:


Jeffrey Song said...

I think the issue is that while we do perhaps need tighter scrutiny checks on these individuals (I'm not sure how the current system works, but I'm guessing there are already basic standards in place that would be necessary if you're serving in a state/federal role, i.e no offenses on record, non-alcoholic, etc.), these types of jobs are definitely not as appealing to those with college degrees/people who have verifiably solid backgrounds as to those who don't. Even though the whole correctional/prison system in place right now is pretty opaque in terms of how it operates and its specific rules/regulations, I don't think this one incident represents the officers & staff in the system as a whole. There are always going to be rotten eggs in any bunch of people; the problem isn't the officers themselves most of the time, its the questionable system in place currently which presents the opportunity for this kind of behavior to happen and continually compounds our growing issue of overpopulation in federal prisons.

The U.S is the world leader in incarceration currently with 2.2 million people, a massive 500% increase over the past thirty years. It's a massively inefficient system; instead of rehabilitating inmates and preparing them for an eventual entrance back into mainstream society (with the exception of those committing major offenses of course), we simply throw them away into these types of prisons with corrupt officers/entirely opaque system and forget about them. Regarding the second part of your second question, I think that it's actually kind of silly that we give similar prison sentences for vastly different offenses. Marijuana possession? No matter what anyone might say, I don't think smoking marijuana makes you, at the very least, a harmful/potentially dangerous individual to society, yet you can still go to jail for possession. These relatively 'minor' offenses contributes to the overpopulation; it's just one idea, but I do think that these sentences should be re-evaluated in order to fit the changing times as well as to address the growing issues of mass corruption (your article being a prime example) and overpopulation.

Christopher Griffis said...

I agree with Jeffery about the tighter checks on these prison workers. As Jefferey also said there is a lack of individuals who are becoming prison guards. A simple google search yielded that there are 6.7 inmates per prison guards and administrative staff. The simple matter is that there are not enough people managing these prisoners because of the lack of pay. Yes there needs to be tighter security on the staff at prisons but no matter how many security checks there are these guards are going to be influenced at the opportunity to gain more money. As the article mentions, the average prison guard was making more than 34% less then the national average salary in the US. If there were more incentives to prison staff jobs then there would be more guards and less illegal activity influencing these guards.

Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/mar/7/more-prisoners-more-guards/

Tara Young said...

I agree with Chris and Jeffery that there need to be stricter background checks on the prison workers. Because of the temptation of selling things to inmates on the side to increase their income, one possible option to lessen corruption is regular checks on the workers rather than just when hiring (not sure if they already have that). It is a good point that there is low pay and lack of people wanting the jobs at prisons, but that shouldn't mean that under qualified people run the prisons containing dangerous inmates. I also agree with Chris that incentives for prison workers might increase the pool of people whole would work there. Prison staff corruption is a big problem as the prison is supposed to work towards helping the inmates become better citizens rather than aid them in more illegal actions.

Christopher Duan said...

I agree that there should be more background research and checks on those that work in prisons. I think that it is also very important to inform the prison employees what is expected of them ,and most of all, to make sure that the prison workers have a strong moral compass when working, as these problems come up a lot. I watched a TV show about Prison life, and whether or not 100% true I cannot verify, but one prison worker DATED a prisoner. I think that this type of behavior needs to be restricted, especially since it affects the well- being and stability overall of the system This was an extreme example, but proves that our prisons need more regulation.

Alex Binsacca said...

Kind of rolling with the flow I also agree that there needs to be tighter background checks on the individuals who apply to have this occupation. Another good way to tighten up security would be to add in some sort of drug test, if they are not already in place. Another possible idea to regulate our federal prison system would be to possibly group prisoners together who have committed similar offenses. Say for instance put the drug dealers in with the other drug dealers, and then possibly just conduct more clock round searches of both the inmates and the people who are supervising them. However, this may just seem impossible for any person to put a stop too, because as Jeff previously stated there will always be a bad egg among the bunch.