It’s up to NYC and DOC to make Rikers action plan survive reality – New York Daily News

With a short order issued Tuesday, Manhattan Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain decided to give the city and the Department of Correction the benefit of the doubt as they insist that the new city action plan is a real blueprint for reversing Rikers Island’s descent into chaos and death .

We continue to believe federal receivership is the best approach, but it is the judge’s decision to make. Now that the order has been sent down, it is on DOC officials and City Hall overseers — a group exemplifying the “limited proficiencies of many of the people who must lead the necessary transformation,” as Federal Monitor Steve Martin caustically wrote in his introductory letter for the plan’s initial draft—to prove the skeptics wrong.

Swain here accepts the city’s contention that the goals listed in the plan, which are themselves a bit vague for our liking, are “entirely within the power of the commissioner, and more broadly the mayor, to execute.” That’s a welcome commitment, but represents an about-face of the city’s long-standing position that legal and contractual entanglements were hindering its efforts to rein in its absentee and incompetent workforce or take other steps to quickly improve the situation.

Either earlier administrators were making excuses as inmates suffered and died, or the current administration is overstating its ability to navigate legal obstacles. In any case, it must show that it can fulfill these commitments, and petition the court to take action if and when it runs into unsurmountable ones.

As things stand, the city will have until Oct. 28 to file a new report ahead of a status update and subsequent conference in mid-November. That means it has a bit more than four months to take the plan from concept to reality. While the monitoring team will no doubt continue to issue their own reviews, the city should commit to real transparency not just with the court but with the larger public. Rikers is an embarrassment to all New Yorkers, and all should be able to track progress.

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