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New York City Doesn’t Care About Young People

NYC city council held a hearing yesterday featuring department of corrections commissioner and fabled “reformer” Joseph Ponte.

It was cathartic to see some city council members confronting Ponte over the DOC’s utter failure to protect young prisoners on Rikers Island. In discussing the case of Kaleif Browder (a 16 year old boy who was wrongfully imprisoned and spent nearly 800 days in solitary confinement) city councilman Daniel Dromm (D) told Ponte that officials “subjected this child to torture. There’s no other way to put it.”

Nonetheless, Ponte seemed to be unmoved by the gravity of the situation. He continued to parrot his weak assortment of promises to reduce violence and phase out the use of solitary for a small number of the facility’s incarcerated children. Unfortunately, the “reforms” have more holes than swiss cheese, and are so weak as to suggest they would be more accurately described as ‘damage control.’

When confronted about his promotion of two Rikers officials to top positions, despite emerging evidence that their staff routinely underreported jail fights, Ponte never once hinted he would do the reasonable thing, which would be to review his decision in light of this new information. Instead, he pretty much tried to shrug it off: Continue reading

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Did a New Mexico County Commissioner Make House Arrest Inmates Do His Yard Work?

Back in July, New Mexico’s KRQE News reported that officials in Bernalillo County were “scrambling to resurrect a long-dormant investigation into why a group of jail inmates on house arrest was sent to the upscale South Valley homes of Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz and some of his friends with weed whackers, rakes and hedge trimmers to do some clean-up work.”

Bernalillo officials were also supposed to examine why this ‘clean team’ spent so much time in Cruz’s district as compared to others in the state. According to KRQE, the clean team spent “more than 70 percent of its work time in Da La Cruz’s district, one of five in the county, during the past year.”

This was not the first time De La Cruz has been alleged to have abused his position and, unsurprisingly, he vehemently denied the accusations outright. He specifically claimed that “No one (from the clean team) ever stepped on my property.” Continue reading