DOC axes $5 million contract after workers brought fentanyl, phones to jail – New York Post

Thanks for contacting us. We've received your submission.
The Department of Correction has axed a $5 million contract with a Big Apple nonprofit after its workers – who were brought to Rikers Island to help detainees – were caught smuggling in fentanyl, cell phones and other contraband amid a spike of overdoses at the troubled jail complex. 
One worker from Exodus Transitional Community, where 90% of staff are formerly incarcerated, was caught on surveillance video stashing drugs inside of a garbage can at the Anna M. Kross Center, according to Joe Russo, the president of the Assistant Deputy Wardens/ Deputy Wardens Association.
“That is a typical practice where inmates will hide things in or underneath the garbage or in the garbage receptacle but underneath the garbage bag,” Russo told The Post Tuesday. 
“That is a common practice where inmates will hide things for other inmates to retrieve.” 
The type of drugs the worker smuggled in is unclear. 
Three other Exodus workers who came to Rikers to provide programming to detainees were busted for a range of other misdeeds, according to THE CITY, which first reported the story.
In one instance, an Exodus employee was busted giving fentanyl to a detainee after smuggling in the deadly drug and burner phones and in another, a staffer was caught bringing in a pound of marijuana, the outlet reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. 
Another worker was unable to enter the facility after the DOC caught him with special, high-tech glasses that had a built-in camera and a fourth staffer was busted on surveillance footage peeing in a hallway, the outlet reported. 
At least one of the workers resigned from Exodus after the incident, the outlet said. 
It’s not clear if the other staffers are still employed with the non-profit, which didn’t return a request for comment from The Post. It is also unclear when the events happened. 
Exodus was tapped by former DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi last summer to be one of the first outside providers to bring programming services to Rikers detainees after counseling, mentoring and other such initiatives dried up during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
They were originally awarded an $1.88 million contract for the programming but by the next fiscal year, it tripled to $5.64 million, records show. 
The group touted the initiative on its website and in its 2021 annual report and said “50 credible messengers” had been traveling to the island to counsel detainees and recently sentenced individuals on “anger management, anxiety, socialization” and other topics. 
“The team continues to engage with and learn from those in custody about how to reduce incidents of violence and bring a humanitarian approach to providing services,” Exodus’s annual report states. 
The news comes as Rikers Island grapples with a surge of overdose deaths, which have increased 800% over the last two years compared to 2017 through 2020. 
Between 2017 and 2020, just one person died from an overdose in DOC custody but since Jan. 2021, nine people have succumbed to suspected or confirmed overdoses, including five so far this year, records show. 
On Tuesday, the City Council’s Committee on Criminal Justice held a hearing on drugs making their way into Big Apple jails and grilled DOC Commissioner Louis Molina on the surge of fatalities. 
Molina, who says he took over the agency when it was on the “brink of collapse” at the beginning of this year, insisted drugs are making their way into the facility primarily through the mail. He said he couldn’t speak about employees and vendors bringing contraband into the facilities and deferred to the Department of Investigation, which handles such incidents. 
Molina rattled off a series of incidents of drugs being found in the mail, including a fentanyl soaked love letter, children’s picture and t-shirt. 
He said drugs had been found in the mail 425 times so far this year, up from 379 last year, and 56 times from visitors, up from 10 found in 2021. 
When the committee’s chair Council Member Carlina Rivera demanded numbers on the total number of drugs found at the facility, intimating the contraband was getting into the jail by vendors and staff, Molina said the data wasn’t readily available and he’d have to “follow up.” 
A source who works at the jail told The Post it’s no secret that staff are bringing in contraband. 
“Staff are bringing in a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff,” the source said. 
“It’s a lawless place.” 


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *