May 12, 2022
Task Force Will Bring Together City Hall, Eight City Agencies to Urgently Address and Implement Reforms
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today signed Executive Order 16, creating an interagency task force that formalizes the whole-of-government approach the Adams administration has already been applying to the crisis plaguing Rikers Island. With the full support of City Hall, the task force will coordinate and implement the multi-agency solutions needed to support the New York City Department of Correction (DOC), surge resources where needed, and provide Mayor Adams with real-time information regarding the city’s efforts. The goal is clear: to implement the recommended reforms as swiftly and efficiently as possible to keep those in custody and correctional officers safe, and to build a functional, safe, and humane jail system. The task force will be chaired by Chief Counsel Brendan McGuire and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phillip Banks.
“Rikers Island has been mired in dysfunction and plagued by parallel crises for decades. We cannot — and will not — allow that to continue,” said Mayor Adams. “Since taking office, and working with the monitoring team, we have seen reductions in use of force and assaults on staff, increased searches for weapons and contraband, and fewer officers out on sick leave, but we must go further. This interagency task force puts the full weight of city government behind fully and immediately addressing these challenges. To the people in our care and those officers and non-uniformed personnel working there: I have your back. The city will not rest until this dysfunction is rooted out, these reforms are implemented, and the people in our care and working on the island are safe.”
“To adequately address the parallel crises facing Rikers, we must coordinate a swift and immediate response from across city government,” said Chief Counsel McGuire. “We cannot allow the same legal and bureaucratic hurdles that have prevented meaningful change for decades to stand in our way any longer. This task force will be laser-focused on cutting through red tape and overcoming those hurdles to deliver safer jails for all.”
“Dysfunctional government and agencies operating within silos is an unacceptable excuse for the dangerous conditions that have persisted on Rikers for years,” said Deputy Mayor Banks. “This task force, bolstered by the full backing of City Hall, will enhance communications among agencies that have historically hindered past attempts at progress. We will reform Rikers, we will build safer jails, and, together, we will build a safer city for all New Yorkers.”
“This vital support from City Hall finally gives this agency the help it needs to bring safety and security to our jail system and fulfill the requirements of the consent judgment in both spirit and letter,” said DOC Commissioner Louis A. Molina. “I am looking forward to working with the dedicated and talented partners at our sister agencies. Together, we are going to transform our jail system into model of safety and humanity.”
In addition to the co-chairs, the task force will include representatives from the DOC, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the New York City Law Department, the New York City Office of Labor Relations, the New York City Office of Management and Budget, the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services, and the New York City Department of Design and Construction. Additional agencies will be added as needed.
The task force will meet weekly to take direct, concrete, and immediate action to resolve the issues identified by the Nunez monitoring team and to accomplish the objectives of the implementation plan in a timely, efficient, and effective manner. The task force will seek to quickly and fully address any and all issues related to the implementation plan and the concerns of the court, the monitoring team, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and the Nunez plaintiffs. And, finally, this task force will ensure that every relevant city agency prioritizes all Rikers-related matters brought to their attention and cooperates fully.