Loosening Lockdown?

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Manhattan City Councilman Miguel Martinez has joined a coalition of prisoner rights' groups to oppose new restrictions the City Department of Corrections is looking to enact in its various jails, most notably Rikers Island.

Those changes include upping the number of prisoners in one dorm from 50 to 60, the opening of prisoner mail and the monitoring of prisoner phone calls, denying prisoners outside visitors during the first 24 hours of their stay, reduction of translation services and the expansion of 23-hour lockdown to include inmates seeking protective custody.

Tough love time. You know, Having had some experience with Rikers Island, I think the reason they deny you the right of visitation in the first 24 hours is so they donít have a mad rush of family members running to wail and cry that their baby got arrested. That way, the only people who show up that early in the process are people with bail money. Visits are done based on an alphabetical system anyway, so denying visitors probably lets the DOC drop inmates into the visitor system just like everybody else.

As for the phone call/mail thing, on every wall you walk past in the visitors center at Rikers there are pictures of what happens when someone sneaks in a razor and gets slashed. Really gruesome stuff. They get those razors by asking people for them over the phone or writing for them. Then a visitor brings them in and corrections officers have the opportunity to take new pictures.

I appreciate the concerns, (especially the translation services question) and I do think that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But come on, these arenít boy scouts. Some of these changes are just common sense.

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