William Clemons, the highest-ranking uniformed officer of New York City's Correction Department, will resign, it was announced today, because—well, because Rikers Island is a really, truly, unimaginably awful place.
Clemons' "retirement" comes after reports that violence regularly went unreported in the jail's juvenile facility, that guards brutally beat mentally ill inmates, that violence among guards often goes unpunished, and that healthcare in the jail ranges from "substandard" to "nonexistent."
The chief, who was appointed to his current position in May after a 29-year tenure in the department, has been the target of criticism regarding the failings of the juvenile facility in particular, where he previously served as warden. As the Times notes, a 2011 internal audit recommended that Clemons be demoted, citing his abdication of "all responsibility" in the underreporting of fights. According to Gothamist, Clemons neglected that responsibility because he found the required Excel spreadsheets "too difficult to read" and couldn't figure out how to print them. He was promoted anyway.
Joseph Ponte, the Correction Department commissioner who appointed Clemons, called him an "able leader" and "model of stability" in a statement released about the resignation today.
"We thank U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara for spearheading investigations and urge Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Ponte to appoint new leadership that will commit to implementing transparent and humane policies that will keep the public safe, maintain the dignity of the City's jailed population and resolve long-standing allegations of abuse and neglect at Rikers Island."
[Image via New York City Department of Correction]