Outrage About Rikers Island Situation Growing

The New York City's Department of Corrections' failure to develop an Irene-related evacuation plan for all the prisoners trapped inside Rikers Island has pissed off people who still remember what happened to prisoners during Katrina, and also those people who oppose drowning. There are still many such people in America (they're all on Twitter).

Supposedly "contingency plans do exist" to make sure that the 12,000 people currently warehoused in the jail remain safe—but nobody seems to know what it is! Therefore, the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys is demanding that the city create an evacuation plan by 5 PM EST today. So far, however, nobody from the city government's made any announcements about any such plan: Instead, the Mayor's Office has been tweeting all the live-long day about the airports (places where people who matter often go) and taxis (transportation that people who matter often take), and reminding everyone not to swim. Still.

Many prisoners at Rikers are nonviolent offenders, stuck there on bullshit charges because they can't afford to pay their way out, or waiting for trial and possibly innocent; they are not "evil" people, in other words. Other prisoners are violent felons who you wouldn't want to just let loose; you would have to shackle them up and transport them elsewhere in a secure manner, and make sure they didn't escape. Making sure that you efficiently evacuate all the different populations of prisoners in a smooth and safe way is a planning nightmare. No wonder nobody at the city bothered to try and figure it out!

Maybe at 5 PM EST (a mere 50 minutes from now) someone from the Bloomberg Administration will grab the nearest podium and let drop a scroll of paper that says, "Dear New York City, we don't fucking know what to do with these prisoners. Oh well, we'll do better when the next hurricane hits. Meantime, don't try to use the airport, and don't go golfing. Also, DON'T SWIM. Unless you're a Rikers inmate, then maybe swim away from the flooded island jail. Some police officers will be on the mainland to capture you, unless they can't due to extreme weather conditions. Then you're on your own. But hey, you'll be free."

[Mother Jones, image via AP]