Correctional Department Commissioner Molina Misses Board Meeting
The Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina and his staff did not attend the monthly Board of Correction meeting that took place on Tuesday, October 18th. While Molina and his staff were required to attend the meeting, According to the NY Post, Molina communicated with the Board of Correction on Monday, October 17th, the day before their meeting, that he would not be in attendance. The reason for Molina’s failure to attend the meeting was because of a visit from the federal monitor of prisons.
Molina’s lack of attendance was condemned by members of the board. Acting Board Chairman Julio Medina called the non-attendance “unprecedented” despite the fact that Molina had missed a meeting before which senior staff members of his department attended instead. This time, not a single staff member of the Corrections Department participated in the meeting.
Molina was expected to explain issues concerning understaffing and a lack of adequate suicide prevention aides as well as make his argument for increasing the time inmates would spend in their cells to 17 hours at George R. Vierno Center at the meeting.
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During the meeting, board member Freya Rigterink said, “All of this together paints a picture that there is a real troubling lack of transparency and that much more information is needed about the conditions in the jails and what the plan is in order to move the department into a place where they can be providing full staffing and better care for people in custody.”
According to the NY Post, Molina had notified the board that he and his staff would be absent from the oversight meeting and offered to have a private oversight meeting on the afternoon of October 18th or 19th.
Robert Cohen, a board member, called on the board to meet again next week with Molina present. “I think it’s very, very important that we have the opportunity very quickly to speak with the commissioner in a public setting,” Cohen said. “This is not something that’s going to wait a month or two. There are going to be serious consequences of the lock-in policy.”