Bloomberg’s disregard for Rikers

The mayor gives an inadvertently revealing answer to a question about inmates' well-being during the storm

Topics: frankenstorm, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene, Prison, New York, Michael Bloomberg, Natural Disasters, Rikers Island,

Bloomberg's disregard for Rikers Rikers Island from above (Wikimedia)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tellingly misinterpreted a reporter’s question during a pre-Sandy press conference Sunday. When asked about what would happen on Rikers Island — New York’s main prison complex –  during the storm, Bloomberg responded, “Jails are secure … Don’t worry about anyone getting out.”

He did not consider that the journalist was in fact asking about the well-being of the near 17,000-strong inmate population, incarcerated on water-locked landfill.

Last summer, when Hurricane Irene threatened the city, the discovery that there was no evacuation plan in place for Rikers evoked outrage from civil rights and prisoner advocates. All of New York’s other surrounding small islands were listed as possible evacuation zones ahead of Irene (which brought the city none of the damage promised by Sandy), but Rikers was not listed in evacuation plans at all.

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This time, as Sandy arrives, evacuation zone maps show Rikers Island surrounded by areas colored brightly, marking risk zones B and C, but the little island itself is left grey and blank (see image below, via New York Times interactive map):

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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