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Warning Signs Overlooked in Hiring for New York City Jails

Rikers Island Correctional Facility (Seth Wenig/AP)
Rikers Island Correctional Facility (Seth Wenig/AP)

(New York Times) – A recent applicant for a job as a correction officer at New York City jails had several friends who were gang members. Another had been arrested four times and had been fired from a job as a security guard for stealing from the business he was supposedly guarding.

Another was found psychologically unfit to be a correction officer but was hired anyway. On her personnel file it was written that she was a “family friend of Norman Seabrook,” the powerful leader of the union for city correction officers.

Despite such red flags, each of these applicants became a correction officer, along with dozens of other people with questionable backgrounds, including those with gang affiliations, criminal histories and significant psychological problems, according to a report by the city’s Department of Investigation to be released on Thursday.

In a review of 153 applications of people the Correction Department recently hired, city investigators found that more than one-third had problems that either should have disqualified them or needed further scrutiny. Ten had been arrested more than once, and 12 had previously been rejected by the New York Police Department, six of them for “psychological reasons”, among other issues. Additionally, 79 had relatives or friends who were current or former inmates, a potential security threat, officials said.

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