Sunday, December 30, 2007

On the Sofa: GL Reader Comments

Once a week, we take a look at some comments left by GL readers during the previous seven days. This week, a post relating a local professor's experience at Central Booking in Brooklyn generated a huge number of comments.

Brooklyn Jail Nightmare: One Woman's Story:

"Brooklyn Central Booking is manned and maintained by the NYPD. Their are no "guards" involved in the process. The"guards" who work as Correction Officers in the NY DOC man Queens and Manhattan Central Booking. Ask anyone who has had the misfortune to have been through either of those facilites that in all honesty those facilities are kept as clean as possible. I'll tell you why. I recently retired from one of those places and I refused to work in filthy conditions. I was locked in with the pre-arraignment prisoners for 8 to 16 hours. Yes people got sick. Yes we gave out bologna sandwiches that I would not eat. When people got sick we called the NYPD so that they could come and get their prisoner and take them to get medical care. If they didn't show up in a timely fashion we bucked it up to our supervisors who would them get on the phone with the NYPD supervisors. Only in an extreme emergency would we be allowed (due to NYPD-NYDOC policy) to take a prisoner to get medical care. I could not give out food that I did not have but I would check the sandwiches to make sure that they were not stale or moldy before I gave them to anyone. The bread does get hard quickly because its made on Rikers and doesn't contain preservatives. The Department rarely gave us cheese sandwiches. I can't say that I enjoyed my job but I did meet hundreds of young men and women who I hope my talking with them as I processed them made a difference for them. It didn't matter to me if they were accused of raping a baby or jumping the turnstile everyone had my ear for the five minutes or so that it took to process them. I know that Brooklyn Central Booking is the pits and I can't apologize for the filth because there is no excuse but unlike the Correction Officers who see Central Booking as a preferred command, the NYPD see it as punishment. Many of the cops assigned their work the "rubber gun squad" meaning they are pending Departmental charges and may end losing their jobs anyway. I don't have the answer except that it takes money to staff it with people who want to be there like CO's who would otherwise be on Rikers. Most people of course would vote for more school or hospital funding rather than funding to improve conditions for people who they perceive to be low lifes." [COnoMO]

"it's not about the cops, but about the conditions. In my case, I let someone walk through the turnstile with me (her Metrocard said 'just used', as in she paid the fare but the turnstile didn't work). Just inside, an undercover cop stopped is. She got a ticket but I -- as I still had an out -of-state drivers license -- was cuffed, walked on a daisy chain THROUGH A SUBWAY STATION AT RUSH HOUR and taken to central booking. It was all very much as described (except there were no sanitary pads for the men). Even still, we had the same sandwiches scattered all over the floor, especially around the toilet. After about 9 hours of people urinating all over them, another batch of people were brought into the cell. One of them immediately got down on all floors and started eating the piss-soaked bread like there was no tomorrow." [Anonymous]

"That sounds similar to my experience, except I also had the fun of having the police lose my fingerprints for two days and a woman die in our holding cell. We were left alone the night she died for more than twelve hours with no water, food or guards. She was screaming for help for about half that time. None came. In the morning she was dead. We were all questioned, but I think they ruled it a drug overdose. I'm not sure, because at that point they let me go. Kudos to you for writing about this, after my experience I was too shaken up to do so." [Anonymous]

Petition to Stop Eviction of Court Street Tailor/Cleaner. "That dry cleaners is as old as dirt. And I'm amazed the sign has lasted. It's the same one I remember from 1970. In the 1950s, that location was a grocery/sandwich shop called Sullivan's. A lot of their business was selling hero sandwiches to the students from St. Francis College, which was on Baltic St. till 1960." [Ex-Warren Street Denizen]



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