During the year of 2012 in Rikers Island, there was an inmate of age 52 who had kidney problems. He was in a special unit of the prison for inmates with high medical need. According to the article, the inmate was asking to see a doctor and an argument broke into an altercation of pushing back and forth. Two corrections officers held down the prisoner while one kicked his head repeatedly. The officer was reported to have said, “Remember that I’m the one who did this to you.” The inmate died shortly thereafter. The corrections officers agreed to obstruct the investigation years ago and cooked up a false version of the events. Last week the guard that held the inmate during the fight admitted that he had perjured himself and conspired with others to obstruct the investigation.
The officers were fired and are now looking at jail time. I believe that it is important for them to receive jail time but not too extensively. I’m not condoning their behavior. My reasoning behind this is that corrections officers receive very little pay for the high potential risk to their lives each day, but also that corrections officers turning inmates are in a very dangerous situation being surrounded by inmates who grow to despise such officers. I think that they should at least be given protection by a certain isolation from other prisoners. We do owe corrections officers a certain respect since most of us would not be willing to monitor the rehabilitation of criminals.
Page A22 of the New York Times, September 21, 2016 edition.