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Solidarity Behind Bars: NYC’s Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association

"Welcome to Fear City" pamphlet

Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to shutter the jail complex at Rikers Island and replace it with smaller, borough-based jails is worthy of tortured scrutiny, offering as it does the moral and political quandary of replacing a notoriously brutal penal colony and avatar of mass incarceration…with still more sites of mass incarceration.1What’s more, nearly every jail built by the NYC Department of Correction (DOC) since the 19th Century has been touted as a “state-of-the-art” reform, rooted in all the most modern penology, and sure to get incarceration right this time. In short, we are at a moment sure to give prison reformers and abolitionists occasion for pause. But to some, the issue is enviably simple. Appearing on a local talk radio show earlier this year, Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association (COBA) president Elias Husamudeen posed a rhetorical question: “The guy that shot the 5-year-old, so now you want him in a jail next door to the mother, to the father? You want him in the community, the one who raped the old lady? You want him next door?”2

Husamudeen, a thirty-year veteran of the Department of Correction, is surely aware that approximately 75% of the captive population of Rikers Island has not been convicted of any crime at all, and the comparatively small number who have been convicted are serving “city sentences” of a year or less, mostly for misdemeanor offenses, over two thirds for sentences of less than 30 days.3 Husamudeen was also quick to point out that out of 64,000 New Yorkers arrested last year “47,000 of them are repeat offenders, recidivists, four, five, six, seven, eight times arrested, in one year!,” which begs the question “how are you going to reduce the jail population when we have a guaranteed 50,000 who are going to be coming back regardless?” These remarks, with their eagerness to slander the DOC’s captive population, indicate that COBA’s hostility to de Blasio’s plan stems less from danger implied by the borough-based location of the new jails than from the danger of its proposal to cut the DOC’s population in half—along with the need for uniformed corrections staff—and to house the remaining population in decentered facilities with (theoretically, at least) enhanced civilian supervision of guards. Failing, as it doe,s to challenge our society’s dependence on policing and incarceration as a panacea for social crisis, de Blasio’s proposal is certainly worthy of critique from the left. But the plan nonetheless offers the possibility of modest gains for many of the predominantly low-income and non-white New Yorkers who are grist for the mill of mass incarceration. And as Husamudeen’s comments reveal, these potential gains for some of the city’s most oppressed and exploited are not simply unpalatable to COBA, but diametrically opposed to the union’s interests.

With COBA set against them, the forces of prison reform in NYC can expect the fight of their lives. While Husamudeen is just getting his feet wet, his predecessor Norman Seabrook wielded immense political power, far disproportionate to the union’s modest size of approximately 10,000 members, power that COBA had been building for decades, and power that Seabrook routinely used to shield guards from charges of violence, neglect, and corruption, to keep watchdogs out of the city jails, and to stall virtually any conceivable reform in the DOC that would benefit those in its custody. Early in his tenure as COBA president, Seabrook established himself as a staunch defender of his uniformed staff’s ability to run the city jails as they saw fit, no matter what. In 1996, in response to a damning Bronx DA investigation into systematic guard brutality at Rikers, Seabrook issued a blanket denial of the DA’s findings, on the contradictory grounds that not only were the witnesses unreliable (after all, they’re criminals) but also that civilians don’t understand the necessity for force in a place where “they’re trying to kill you”4 When accounts of guard brutality continued to mount, resulting the next year in the DOC’s hiring a prosecutor to lead a task force investigating brutality at Rikers’s notorious “Bing” solitary confinement facility, Seabrook assailed the credibility of the prosecutor as “part of a system that has condemned officers from the word go”.5 In 2013, when ten guards were charged in connection with a vicious group beating of a single captive left with a broken eye socket for giving a guard a dirty look, Seabrook bemoaned “correction officers paraded into court for merely defending themselves”.6And the following year when guards conducted an illegal work stoppage in response to civilian employees giving captives a pizza party at the end of an intensive therapy program, Seabrook supported their cruelty, remarking: “You want to eat pizza, stay home.” 7

Seabrook’s tough talk was almost never idle, but backed by his peremptory control of the DOC—one former commissioner claimed that during his tenure, wardens considered Seabrook more important to their careers than him—and by considerable influence in City Council and Albany, where Seabrook, armed at all times with a carrot and a stick (in addition to the firearm at his hip) built powerful allies. Within his own department, Seabrook came in a short time to inspire fear in would-be reformers, and to take square aim at their careers.8 In City Council and Albany, Seabrook’s lobbying for COBA’s pension and benefits, for which he happily went over the mayor’s head when bargaining failed, even earned the consternation of law-and-order hawk Rudolph Giuliani.9 In November 2013, Seabrook revealed the sheer power he wielded over New York City when he orchestrated the shutdown of the entire Corrections bus system responsible for bringing defendants from jail to the city courts—all to prevent one captive from testifying in a case of guard brutality.10 Far more could be said about Seabrook, whose exploits have been well documented in the wake of his 2016 arrest for corruption involving COBA pension funds, but suffice it to say that his formidable and justifiably feared political apparatus now belongs to Husamudeen, who, having positioned himself to lead the fight against closing Rikers Island, seems entirely aware of how to use it.

But COBA was not always so powerful. The union was established in 1901 following the tradition of the police and firemen’s “benevolent associations,” built in the previous decade to provide burial services for victims of the 1890s influenza epidemic. When the epidemic passed, these associations remained as interest groups of uniformed city workers who were eager to make political connections to negotiate for pay, benefits, and working conditions, but were loath to be tarred with the brush of “union”—a moniker that could have quickly run them afoul of the law or else earned their members prompt retaliation from department bosses.11 Municipal unions as such were not formally recognized as collective bargaining agents in New York City until 1954, and it wasn’t until 1958 that the first city contract was settled. In the decades prior to recognition city unions existed, but they did not have the power to bargain collectively or to represent entire sectors exclusively, and had to seek other means to represent their members, such as lobbying politicians behind closed doors, while working closely with the heads of the departments they represented.

This cooperative spirit defined the early days of COBA’s political life. In 1937 COBA achieved the DOC’s first mandatory yearly raises and pension through lobbying Alderman William McCarthy, who legislated the raises into city law, also expanding pension benefits for jail guards.12 Similarly, in 1939, COBA partnered with City Councilman Charles Keegan to offer up a bill restructuring the guards’ tours of duty, eliminating permanent night shifts and instituting an eight-hour day.13The political role of COBA in these campaigns was backroom lobbying and messaging, with a relatively positive message at that: the former bill, they argued, would equalize the ranks of the DOC, eliminating jealousies and favoritism arising from competition over day shifts, allow the men formerly relegated permanent night-shifts to see their families, and generally contribute to the efficient management of the jail facilities.14 Both measures passed, though the tour system was routinely violated by the DOC and remained a source of contention.15 COBA followed these by finding sponsorship for another important bill, this time Councilman Anthony DiGiovanni, establishing NYC jail guards as a uniformed force, with a formalized system structuring promotions, to counter nepotism and build a workforce of career guards.16

Emboldened by these and other lobbying victories, COBA set its sights on pay parity with the far more politically powerful police and firefighters, as well as on expanding its membership amidst perennial cries of short-staffing in the city’s jails. Pay parity proved a tall order, however, and coupled with COBA’s insatiable demand for more uniformed staff as the city’s jail population rose, the union found itself at loggerheads with the City Council and the mayor on these issues throughout the 1940s and 1950s.17 Simultaneously, municipal unions were gaining size and power in New York City, encouraging spirited internal participation and cultivating independence from their civilian bosses, while union leaders replaced dependence on politicians with becoming politicians themselves. By the early 1950s, backed by a loyal and increasingly mobilized membership, COBA President Stephen Hartigan was openly challenging the mayor and City Council in the court of public opinion. However when Hartigan addressed COBA membership on the imperative for pay parity, he called simply for more legislation and “a decent Labor Relations Board where matters like this can be brought swiftly and honestly to the proper authority.”18

Fueled by the tax revenue of the post-war economic boom and the federal dollars of President Johnson’s Great Society program, the NYC public sector grew in the 1960s, and a powerful, and at times militant, municipal unionism emerged. This held doubly for law-enforcement unions, as the 1960s saw the rise of “law and order” ideology and policy. Here COBA followed in the footsteps of an older and more powerful union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), which built its immense power under the banner of law and order.19 While the PBA did not receive official recognition as the sole bargaining organization for its members until 1964, the union had been flexing its muscles since 1958, when a young patrolman named John Cassese took over as union president. The firebrand Cassese was able to defeat incumbent John Carton, a more moderate president squarely in the cooperative model, after Mayor Wagner installed a new commissioner, Stephen Kennedy. Kennedy didn’t care much for unions and foolishly abandoned a decade of close cooperation with the PBA, under which cops were granted benefits and workplace power, provided they stayed away from city-union activism. In this new, contentious climate, the activist Cassese conducted an acerbic public feud with Commissioner Kennedy, including a coordinated slowdown of ticketing, ended only when Kennedy was replaced by Wagner, who needed the PBA’s support for re-election.20 Throughout all of this, Cassese was backed by a highly mobilized and increasingly radical PBA membership, and they were just getting warmed up.21

Concurrent with the rise of worker power in the NYPD was the rise of police prominence in the regime of “law and order.” In the mid-1960s police departments, their unions, reactionary segments of the elite, and right-wing politicians teamed up under the banner of law and order to deploy state repression backed by thinly-veiled racist appeals against both the judicial victories of the Civil Rights movement and its increasingly militant offshoots in the streets, pressing for more power and less accountability for cops and guards against the threats of urban unrest, black and brown power, and communism. To the uniformed agents of law and order, fidelity to the uniform above all else became the bottom line. And as the power of these uniformed city workers grew, the figure of the civilian boss against which law enforcement unions directed their ire came to be conflated with the figure of the communist, the non-white militant, the urban rioter, the white “liberal”, the ACLU, and other threats to the old guard of white power and, more importantly, rank-and-file police and guard power. Though city workers and union members themselves, NYC’s police and guards often supported conservative politicians like William F. Buckley, who promised to stand up to unions and cut government services, with the tradeoff being increased power for police and guards, and the explicit rejection—backed by violence—of all the liberatory promise of the 1960s.22

By 1966, NYPD cops were getting organized against the “criminal law revolution” of the Warren Supreme Court. The Southern-grown movement against an earlier Warren decision, Brown v. Board of Education, had reached the PBA; George Wallace bumper stickers had to be removed from NYPD police cruisers.23 Centrist politicians like John Lindsay found themselves in the position of trying to win enough votes to stay in office as city politics polarized around law enforcement in a manner familiar today. One of Lindsay’s campaign promises had been the creation of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), an oversight board responsible for evaluating civilian complaints against cops.24 Once elected, Lindsay endeavored to restructure the board with a majority of civilians selected by the mayor, though authorized only to make suggestions to the NYPD brass about police wrongdoing and disciplinary action. For the PBA, however, this meager affront to the cops’ ability to abuse the city’s racialized lower classes however they saw fit was a bridge to far, especially in the political climate of 1966.

Fresh off their victory over a sitting police commissioner, the PBA took on the issue of worker control with a fervor that caught the politically savvy Lindsay completely by surprise. “I’m sick and tired of giving into minority groups,” declared Cassese in a press conference announcing the PBA’s campaign against the board, “with their whims and gripes and shouting …”25 PBA spokesmen drew language from the far-right John Birch Society26 to cast CCRB as a communist plot, and—in language familiar today—contrast their power as “blue” in opposition to “red” (communists) and of course “black”, the latter typified by Algernon Black, the left-liberal chair of Lindsay’s restructured CCRB, and a lightning rod for race-baiting at whom the union happily lobbed its bolts.27 The PBA and its ally, the white-supremacist Conservative Party, launched a ballot initiative to repeal the board so quickly that they didn’t even consult each other first; as a result, there were initially two petitions until the Conservative Party withdrew theirs.28 The anti-CCRB campaign featured an aggressive public relations strategy that would define the discussion of policing in NYC for decades to come, with one ad depicting a young woman exiting the subway late at night, with the caption “The Civilian Review Board Must Be Stopped. Her Life, Your Life May Depend on It”, and another bearing the telling slogan “With A Review Board, It May Be The Police Officer Who Hesitates, Not The Criminal”.29 In short, the PBA argued, cops must be able to dispose of undesirables—and here the racial connotation was clear—however they see fit, or else white society would be defenseless against its sundry scary enemies. The CCRB was defeated by ballot. It was a stinging rebuke not only for Lindsay, but also for Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Jacob K. Javitz, two prominent supporters of the CCRB, whose star power proved no match for the patrolman Cassese and his message of militant white revanchism.

A small organization of black cops called the Guardian Association, with a fascinating history on the margins of law enforcement unionism continuing to the present, pushed against the PBA’s use of union funds for this overtly racist campaign.30But a serious look at the history of race in NYC law enforcement would be forced to concern itself less with the fact that some black and brown cops and guards resisted their departments’ racist policies and verbiage than with the remarkable continuity of the structural racism upheld by both NYPD and DOC, whose policies disproportionately devastate low income non-white communities, despite a breathtaking demographic shift among police and guards, a majority of whom are today non-white—and in the case of COBA, producing a quarter-century of black leadership.

In the years after the CCRB’s defeat, President Leo Zeferetti led COBA in the footsteps of the PBA. Taking a page from Cassese, Zeferetti vocally opposed the Board of Correction, a civilian oversight board with few formal powers to begin with, accusing the chairman of harassment for investigating prison guards.31 When the Board attempted to gain subpoena power to evaluate claims of abuse, Zeferetti naturally opposed the measure.32 In the wake of a riot in the Tombs, COBA, with Zeferetti as its mouthpiece, advanced the threat of a mass quitting should they not be allowed to forcibly “clean up our institution” by fixing broken locks (of which no evidence was offered) and “returning inmates to their cells”, also using the occasion to demand riot gear and 700 new guards.33 This posturing was not without effect. In the wake of the Attica rebellion, which would become a watchword hurled at anyone deemed sympathetic to inmates’ rights or critical of law enforcement, Zeferetti called for harsh penalties for rioting, including life in prison for taking hostages.34

Most importantly, in 1970 COBA began a spirited tradition of workplace actions that teased if not violated the Public Employees Fair Employment Act (commonly known as the Taylor Law), which severely criminalizes any kind of strike action by New York State public sector workers, enforced by draconian fines and imprisonment. The Taylor Law did not stop COBA from organizing a slowdown in early 1970 to demand more guards, though it earned COBA the threat of legal action from Mayor Lindsay.35 However a sickout later that year, after the threat of en masse quits over broken locks, earned COBA 300 new hires.36 Amidst contract negotiations in 1972, COBA carried out a belligerent “work-to-rule” action, slowing down criminal court proceedings, and continued even after the State Supreme Court issued a writ demanding the action cease.37 Zeferetti’s willingness to break the law in advancing his members’ interests earned him re-election in 1973, which he parlayed a year later into a congressional seat in Albany. And while COBA political maneuverings were not always successful, it was clear that its combination of militancy and allegiance to the new regime of law and order moved the small union beyond playing second fiddle to politicians toward becoming a powerful political actor in its own right. In the footsteps of PBA, COBA learned that rank-and-file power could be best maximized through an alliance with the regime of law and order, which enabled these organizations to cultivate considerable independence in city politics, while exercising a frightening degree of control over their working conditions and workplaces, and by extension, the lives (and sometimes, deaths) of the city’s most powerless people.

New Yorkers were forced to face the sheer violence on which COBA’s workplace power rests in October 1986, when a week of inmate rebellion and brutal staff retaliation, plus a guard work-stoppage that evaded Taylor Law invocation, culminated in a massive riot of Rikers guards, who ran the inmates they considered ringleaders through a gauntlet outside the Anna M. Kross Center (AMKC), beating them viciously in plain sight of ranking DOC officials and the windows of surrounding jails. When a group of captives inside AMKC, seeing the violence, barricaded the door to their dormitory, the guards outside streamed in, joined by others from the Emergency Support Unit, raining wanton violence down on anyone in their path—including captives in the dormitory downstairs, who had nothing to do with the barricade, and even a few civilians.38 In the midst of this chaos, COBA President Philip Seelig, reportedly giving impromptu speeches energizing the crowd39, spotted high-ranking staff from the DOC and monitors from the Commission of Correction, a state oversight board, attempting to intervene in a vicious guards-on-inmate beating. Mistaking them for staff of the Inspector General, Seelig shouted “Get these fucking IG out of here!”, leading a small company of uniformed guards to hassle, assault, and forcibly restrain officials who were their ranking superiors, to prevent them from intervening in a bloodbath for which few were punished.40

Despite the vociferous protests of the Commission of Corrections, Seelig and his cohort, including Vice-President Stanley Israel, who would succeed Seelig, were not charged or even sanctioned for their behavior. Instead, Seelig soldiered on long enough to feature prominently in another bloody staff riot in 1990, which was in part a response to a “use-of-force” policy put in place after the brutality of 1986 proved too much for the city and state to ignore. Ostensibly touched off by an inmate-on-guard beating, though dissent against the new use-of-force directives had long been simmering, the 1990 action saw COBA rank-and-file’s demand for total control over working conditions take the form of a raucous wildcat blockade of the sole bridge connecting Rikers Island to mainland Queens. If there wasn’t before, this time there surely was an activist rank-and-file far outpacing Seelig, who was booed upon his arrival at the blockade.41 It was only belatedly that Seelig assumed control of the violent action, during which on-duty paramedics attempting to cross the bridge were pulled from their vehicles and beaten, and DOC Commissioner Allyn Sielaff was himself turned away by a belligerent mob of rank-and-filers who demanded he address them as equals.42

When a tentative agreement was reached with Mayor Dinkins, backed by the threat of a Taylor Law invocation against COBA, Seelig again proved himself an enlivening orator, announcing to the rebellious guards that the use-of-force policy had simply been eliminated. Dinkins had in fact agreed for it to be reformulated. In a repeat of 1986, captives inside Rikers’ Otis Bantum Correctional Center (OBCC) responded to this announcement by throwing up a barricade, and when word of it hit the bridge, the assemblage of guards flooded GMDC, meting out such wanton violence that the hallways literally ran with blood, injuring almost 100 inmates, many of whom had only defensive wounds.43 The carnage was a crimson celebration of NYC jail guards’ control over the conditions of their labor. Present on the bridge that night was Norman Seabrook, part of the rank-and-file rebellion, who would lead an activist challenge first to Seelig, then to Israel, before himself becoming president and setting the table for COBA’s power and influence today.

If we are to make sense of the rise of COBA as a political force and its implications for closing down Rikers Island in the present, we must return to the year 1975, when New York City experienced a near financial meltdown. Under the banner of the Emergency Financial Control Board, private capital seized control of the city’s coffers and began initiating deep cuts to municipal services that spelled a 20% reduction in the city’s workforce, hitting teachers the hardest, but leaving no department unscathed.44 By this point the politically active and vocal PBA and COBA were uniquely positioned and all-too-eager to distinguish themselves from other municipal workers as deserving a slice of the dwindling pie. Amidst layoffs in their departments and the grim prospect of collective bargaining in this new climate, they broke with “pattern bargaining”, the practice by which city unions worked out similar contracts. It was everyone for themselves, they would argue, and surely the city needed cops and guards more than it did public housing and teachers.45 In addition to printing the notorious “Welcome to Fear City” pamphlet as part of a coalition among COBA and other law enforcement unions, rank-and-file cops marched, against the wishes of their union’s Delegate Assembly, from their home precincts to City Hall, blocking rush hour traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. Before long the state found the money to reverse 2,000 of the 5,000 police layoffs.46 This coalition prefigured a bargaining bloc composed of PBA, COBA, and the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) that earned its members 21% raises in 1980, an important landmark on the path toward the stabilization of New York social life by brute force.47

Thus, in the early days of what we now call neoliberalism, politically active NYC police and prison guards—through the vehicle of their powerful unions, driven by vibrant rank-and-file activism—stepped up to manage by force populations for whom very few other public services were being made available. In the process, these unions were all too willing to cast everyday New Yorkers as nothing short of a military enemy, and to consider the basic human rights of this supposed criminal class as a danger to the ability of police and prison guards to do their jobs. This restructuring of New York City’s social landscape was a recipe for filling the jails, building more, and filling them too, predominantly with the low-income people of color hardest hit by austerity. These jails would prove to be sites of brutish warehousing by guards who were no longer required to even pay lip service to the dignity of the prisoners under their care, custody, and control. In this political climate, Rikers Island became ground zero for the phenomenon we now call mass incarceration, and throughout the 1980s and early 1990s it expanded immensely, along with the political power of New York’s police and guards, which continues unchallenged to this day. Any effort to close down Rikers Island will have to contend with the immense power police and guards have built in the past decades, and the broader social terrain on which their power—along with the considerable political power behind mass incarceration—has grown. Fortunately, the role of police and prisons in our society is subject to more scrutiny today than it has been for decades, and the cops and guards don’t like it one bit. In his scattered radio remarks, the lifelong jail guard Elias Husamudeen complains that proponents of closing Rikers want to make jails a thing of the past: they “want you to take your five-year-old granddaughter and walk past a jail, so you can explain to her what these barbed wires are, and what this place is, and why it’s there…” Those questions sound like a great place to start.



  1. City of New York Office of the Mayor, Smaller, Safer, Fairer: A Roadmap to Closing Rikers Island, 2017. De Blasio’s plan draws heavily from the 2017 report of Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, commonly known as the Lippman Commission, entitled A More Just New York City.
  2. The Cats Roundtable, “Close Rikers? Not So Fast” 25 June 2017
  3. Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, A More Just New York City, 2017, p.33
  4. NY Times “3 Are Said to Plead Guilty in Rikers Brutality Inquiry” 23 January 1996, p.B3
  5. NY Times “Inmate Beatings Decrease but Continue at Rikers” 1 March 1997, p.25
  6. NY Times “Charges That Chief Ordered Rikers Beating” 27 June 2013, p.A25
  7. NY Times “De Blasio Setting Up a Test: Prison Reformer vs. Rikers Island” 4 April 2014, p. A1
  8. NY Times “At Rikers Island, Union Chief’s Clout Is a Roadblock to Reform” 14 December 2014, p. A1
  9. NY Times “Behind Pension Rise, Unions Aggressive Courtship of City Council” 9 January 1999, p. 30
  10. NY Times“At Rikers Island, Union Chief’s Clout Is a Roadblock to Reform” 14 December 2014, p. A1
  11. Mark Maier, City Unions, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987, pp. 19-20
  12. The Chief “Correction Group Cites Its Record” 15 September 1944, p. 2
  13. The Chief “City Council Bill for Prison Keepers” 6 January 1939, p. 2
  14. The Chief “Prison Keepers Favor Rotation”13 January 1939, p. 4
  15. The Chief“Correction Group Presents Program” 21 April 1944, p. 5
  16. The Chief “Prison Officers Bill Progresses” 1 May 1942, p. 4
  17. The Chief “Officers Warn of Prison Peril and Breakdown” 18 November 1948, p. 8; The Chief “Correction Officers Note Pay Inequality” 25 January 1946, p. 7
  18. The Chief “Correction Group Nominates Staff, Election in June” 29 May 1953, p. 3
  19. Rebecca Hill, “‘The Common Enemy Is the Boss and the Inmate’: Police and Prison Guard Unions in New York in the 1970s–1980s”, Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas 8:3, pp. 65–96, 2011. Much of what follows is indebted to Hill’s insights in this fantastic essay.
  20. City Unions pp. 94–96
  21. City Unions p. 106
  22. “‘The Common Enemy…’” p. 78
  23. Max Gunther, “Cops in Politics: A Threat to Democracy?” in William J. Bopp, The Police Rebellion: A Quest for Blue Power, 1977.
  24. William J. Bopp, “The New York City Referendum on Civilian Review” in The Police Rebellion pp. 120–22
  25. Ibid.
  26. “‘The Common Enemy…’” p. 76
  27. Ibid. p. 125
  28. Ibid p. 124
  29. Ibid. 129–30
  30. NY Times “Kheel to Mediate Dispute Between 2 Police Groups” 28 December 1966 p. 34
  31. NY Times “Prison Guards See Harassing By City” 6 March 1971 p. 28
  32. NY Times “Chairman of Correction Board Seeks the Power to Subpoena” 12 January 1971 p. 32
  33. NY Times “Jail Guards Push Plan on Security” 19 August 1970 p. 22
  34. NY Times “Prison Officers Here Ask Stiffer Penalties for Inmates Who Riot” 14 Sep 1971, p. 31
  35. NY Times “Correction Aids Targets of a Writ” 12 March 1970, p. 32
  36. NY Times “Sick-Out At Rikers City Prison to Get 300 More Officers” 3 September 1970, p. 45
  37. NY Times “City Gains Stay in Corrections Slowdown” 26 Oct 1972, p. 47; NY Times “Correction Aides Defy Writ, Continue Slowdown” 27 Oct 1972, p. 37.
  38. These events are documented in NY State Commission of Corrections, Inquiry into Disturbances on Rikers Island, 1987, especially pp. 73–97
  39. Annette Fuentes, “Rumblings in Rikers Ranks”, The Village Voice 23 October 1990, p.13
  40. Inquiry Into Disturbances, pp. 94–96
  41. Ibid.
  42. NY Times “Behind Rikers Melee: Tensions Wrought by Strain of Change”. 20 August 1990, p. B1
  43. Annette Fuentes, “Rumblings in Rikers Ranks”, The Village Voice 23 October 1990, p. 13
  44. City Unions p. 175
  45. This is a central theme of “’The Common Enemy is the Boss and the Inmate.’”
  46. Ibid. pp. 178–9
  47. Ibid. pp. 181


Jarrod Shanahan

Jarrod Shanahan is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Governors State University.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2017

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