Despite a good amount of public outcry, Rikers Island remains a violent hellhole that might be better off closed rather than reformed at this point. And now to add to the violence, a new report from the News claims that Rikers officials routinely downplayed violent incidents in order to make the prison seem like it was becoming more peaceful.
The News spoke to a number of guards and jail officials who told the paper that guards routinely had supervisors downgrade reports of violent incidents, despite evidence to the contrary. The News also said they looked at 11 reports detailing slashings and other violent incidents and found that nine were downgraded by jail officials after guards turned the reports in. In order to hide the real number of violent incidents in the jail, officials "lie about the use of force statistics,” one anonymous guard told the News. Another one described the practice as a "purging" of stats showing violent incidents.
The paper did mention that sometimes it could be hard to get inmates to admit to them that injuries that looked like stabbings and slashings were actually caused by other inmates, but the sources they spoke to maintained that a number of violent incidents were downgraded or not filed at all.
Sources who spoke to the News blamed the orders to hide violent incidents on Security Chief Turhan Gumusdere. Gumusdere has previously been implicated in a report that said he purposefully underreported the amount of fights happening in the juvenile wing of the prison when he was the deputy warden in 2011. Gumusdere was promoted, even after an audit determined he rarely read spreadsheets full of incident data when he was deputy warden, instead passing them off to subordinates even he described as "incompetent."
Gumusdere, for his part, told the News "everything you have is wrong" and that every incident in the prison is on video.