Slow Down Youth Inmate Transfers

An Oct.1 deadline for transferring 16- and 17-year-old offenders from Rikers Island looms.

We have no problem with the transfer.

But with the transfer only months away, we fear a debacle is in the making.

The unrealistic October deadline imposed by the state should be extended to allow more time to prepare for the transfer.

New York City unfairly stands alone with that deadline.

The transfer of the youthful offenders is occurring as the city is preparing to close Rikers Island, something that human rights advocates have demanded for years.

We need to be a part of the process as we are concerned about the safety of our members, primarily represented by Social Service Employees Union Local 371, and wish the change of the workplace is as smooth as possible.

Furthermore, the union estimates that 500 additional workers will be needed for the new site.

Understaffing is at the root of too frequent assaults on workers by youthful offenders and the disturbing spike in workers’ compensation cases. It has also led to excessive overtime.

We are not aware of any hiring in the works by the Administration for Children’s Services, which is charged with caring for the youthful offenders.

Nor have we been invited to any discussion about the training of the new workers.

“We are not at war with anyone,” Local 371 President Anthony Wells said. “We just want this transition done right.”

This editorial appeared in the April 2018 issue of Public Employee Press, the official publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 125,000 municipal workers in New York City.

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