Union blames liberal legislation change for violent assault on Lengthy Island jail guard

A Long Island correction officer’s union is fuming over a brand new state legislation — spearheaded by Brooklyn progressive state Sen. Julia Salazar — asserting it’s fueled a detainee’s bloody assault on a jail guard and an general spike in violence inside lockups.

Alleged gangbanger Thomas Bell kicked and punched employees inside Nassau County Correctional Facility final month simply three days after the union accused him of being a part of an assault on a fellow inmate — for which he was by no means disciplined, union and county officers mentioned.

The Nassau County Sheriff’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association blames laws handed by state Senate and Meeting Democrats — and signed in 2021 by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo — that went into impact April 1.

Referred to as the Humane Alternate options to Lengthy Time period Solitary Confinement Act, or HALT, the legislation goals to drastically cut back solitary confinement that separates inmates from the overall inhabitants.

The guards’ union disagrees with the entire premise.

“You might have to have the ability to separate violent predators inside jails identical to exterior jail from the overall inhabitants,” Nassau Correction Officers Benevolent Affiliation president Brian Sullivan instructed The Publish, lamenting HALT has sparked a rise in violence inside jails and prisons.

Nassau Correction Officers Benevolent Affiliation president Brian Sullivan believes separation is finest for these circumstances.
The Union of Nassau COBA

HALT advocates, nevertheless, insist an inmate’s isolation in different components of the detention facility can result in psychological anguish, generally inside hours — and wind up inflicting much more erratic conduct.

“We see that they’re extra prone to be victims of assault, they’re extra prone to be engaged in violent conduct themselves as a result of they’ve simply been de-socialized,” John Jay School of Prison Justice professor Jeffrey Coots instructed The Publish.

HALT stops the usage of segregated confinement for susceptible populations and mandates a listening to earlier than any inmate might be moved.  

Additionally, if an inmate is positioned in segregated housing, it could actually solely be for 15 days, a drastic drop earlier than HALT was applied. Inmates are also allowed extra trip of their cell whereas in segregated items underneath HALT.

photo of the injured guard
The Lengthy Island jail guard was brutally injured after he was attacked by inmates.

The statistics since HALT’s implementation are regarding.

In January and February, the correctional facility recorded 15 incidents that required use of power by officers; by June and July that quantity soared to 30 and 31, in keeping with knowledge on the incidents.

In March—the month earlier than HALT’s implementation—there have been 25 use of power incidents, however the union believes that was an anomaly, noting inmates knew the extra liberal coverage was going into impact. The identical month additionally noticed gang flare-ups.

The primary incident that allegedly concerned Bell was Aug. 22 after he and different inmates had been accused of assaulting and stabbing one other inmate, who suffered a collapsed lung, damaged ribs and cuts to his face and torso, the union mentioned.

Following the assault, the violent detainee was discovered with a shank in his cell, in keeping with the union. Paperwork obtained by The Publish present a report wherein a sharpened piece of steel was discovered.

A disciplinary report was written up on Bell, a Nassau County spokesperson confirmed.

He stays jailed pending a decision to a theft case in January, when he hit with a number of costs, the Nassau County District Legal professional’s Workplace mentioned.

On Aug. 25, Bell refused to return to his cell after the distribution of treatment to detainees — and as a substitute lunged at employees along with his fists raised and a sheet wrapped round his face to dam being sprayed, the union alleged.

Sen. Julia Salazar
Sen. Julia Salazar is receiving backlash for the brand new invoice that union employees disagree with.
Paul Martinka

After he was sprayed, Bell struggled with correction officers, punching and kicking earlier than he was handcuffed and eliminated by an emergency response group, in keeping with the union. Three officers had been injured, the union mentioned.

The Publish obtained a jail report detailing the incident that said the officer was struck a number of occasions.

One officer instructed The Publish he was so badly harm he misplaced consciousness briefly.

“I keep in mind at one level I used to be being pulled up and I seemed down and I used to be coated in my very own blood,” recounted the officer Brian S., who didn’t need to give his full title because of security issues.

“I may really feel the blood dripping out of my face, I didn’t know whose it was at first after which I spotted it was from me,” he mentioned.

After the second incident, the county mentioned the inmate obtained a listening to and was positioned in administrative segregation. The union mentioned the inmate was additionally put in shackles exterior of the housing space for as much as 15 days.

“The incidents are underneath investigation and no additional info is obtainable at the moment,” the county spokesperson mentioned earlier this month, including the inmate may face prison costs.

Nassau County Executive Bruce A. Blakeman
Nassau County Govt Bruce A. Blakeman disagrees with the thought behind HALT.
Dennis A. Clark

The spokesperson, who works on behalf of Nassau County Govt Bruce Blakeman, referred to as HALT a “harmful legislation” that needs to be instantly repealed as a result of it “handcuffs our correction officers and places them additional in hurt’s means.”

The county had no additional updates Friday because the investigation continues.

Bell’s lawyer, Michael DerGarabedian, bluntly instructed The Publish that “I wouldn’t imagine any of that as a result of [that] motion would have led to him being arrested and charged. He was not.” 

DerGarabedian didn’t elaborate in requests for additional remark.

Sullivan mentioned earlier than HALT, Bell’s first alleged assault would have “100%” led to his dealing with segregated housing — and will’ve prevented the following assault.

The union head directs a lot of his ire towards Salazar and lawmakers who unfairly in contrast main points at Rikers Island with correctional amenities exterior town.

“The entire indifference of individuals like Julia Salazar is totally sickening to me,” Sullivan mentioned.

Salazar instructed The Publish that Sullivan works in a jail and doesn’t perceive HALT’s impression on prisons. She asserted she’s visited jails and prisons throughout the state for the reason that invoice handed to observe the way it’s labored out.

“I care deeply concerning the implementation of HALT, which is exactly why I take the chance to right the misinformation that Nassau COBA makes an attempt to unfold about HALT,” she mentioned.

“Humane alternate options to solitary confinement make jails and prisons safer for each individual within the amenities, each employees and incarcerated people.”

 Julia Salazar
“The entire indifference of individuals like Julia Salazar is totally sickening to me,” Sullivan mentioned.
AP/Hans Pennink

The Nassau jail has lately seen the resignation in early September of Sheriff James Dzurenda, who oversaw the correctional facility

Sullivan panned Dzurenda’s management, together with his shutting down the segregated unit after HALT went into impact. He blasted Dzurenda “an incompetent administrator” who contributed to the violence within the facility.

Dzurenda told Newsday he stepped down as a result of he was pissed off by the job.

A raid after a brand new appearing sheriff was put in place this month led to “startling” outcomes the place weapons, medication and different contraband had been discovered within the jail, Blakeman mentioned at a press convention this month.

Sullivan additionally lamented that residential rehabilitation items included within the HALT laws to offer higher sources to inmates don’t exist within the jail as a result of there’s been little funding from the state and county. As a substitute, inmates who would land there are simply shuffled between common housing areas, he mentioned.

“All of it sounds nice in principle, however in follow it doesn’t exist,” Sullivan mentioned.

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