Louis Molina took the helm of the Department of Correction last year pledging reform and transparency.

But that hope may have been swiftly shot down.

What You Need To Know

  • Ahead of a court hearing next week, the Rikers federal monitor said the Department of Correction is still not being transparent with the monitoring team

  • The monitor accused the department of providing inaccurate or misleading information

  • The department says it is committed to reform

In a new special report on Thursday, the federal monitor overseeing Rikers Island once again criticized Molina and his department for failing to be open, transparent and effectively manage the city’s jails.

It was the third such report or correspondence since the end of May.  

In part, it reads: "The current state of affairs in the jails remains alarming, not just for the rampant violence and frequency with which force is used, but also because of regression in the Department’s management of the Nunez Court Orders and its lack of transparency.”

The monitor went on to say the department’s reform has been characterized by “inaccuracies and a lack of transparency.”

Concluding: “These problems have grave consequences for the prospect of reform and eliminating the imminent risk of harm faced by incarcerated individuals and staff.”

It describes several instances where the department has delivered the monitor inaccurate information or none at all.

For one, during one fatality on Rikers in May, where a detainee allegedly jumped from a top tier housing area, department officials had said two officers were on the floor of the unit at the time.

The report found one of those officers was actually inside of a cell that had been converted to an office, and was seated at a desk with the door closed, not providing direct supervision of those in custody.

The monitor is asking the court for an order that would require the department to be more forthcoming with information and comply with the monitor’s requests.

It’s also asking for the appointment of a Nunez manager within the department, who would work with the monitor and be the point of contact.

This report comes at a pivotal time for Molina, who has been under fire for several weeks, specifically on the lack of transparency at the department.

And it’s not just the monitor who is piling on.

NY1 also obtained this letter from state Attorney General Letitia James.

In the letter, she says: “In light of recent events, including your announcement that the Department will cease its multi-year practice of informing the public of deaths of people in custody... we send you this letter to formally remind the Department of its responsibility to be transparent with this office.”

In response to the monitor’s report, a spokesperson for the Department of Correction highlighted more favorable comments from the monitor from April.

And then went on to say: “Today’s report repeatedly recognizes that, in 2023, key indicators, including deaths of people in custody and stabbings and slashings, have declined under Commissioner Molina and the Adams administration. Notwithstanding that clear and measurable progress, which builds on the efforts detailed in the April report, today’s report appears to move the goalposts by focusing on data from the six-year period prior to this administration when the monitor was overseeing a department that was spiraling towards the brink of collapse. We remain focused on building upon the gains of the past 18 months and working every day in coordination with the monitor toward a safer and more humane environment for those who live and work on Rikers Island.”