Fasano: Less Concerned about Schriro’s Parking Error, More Concerned about Outrageous Past Offenses

January 8, 2016

HartfordSenate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement about Commissioner Dora Schriro of the Department Emergency Services and Public Protection. Commissioner Schriro was recently in the news after photos of her car improperly parked in a handicapped parking spot surfaced.

“People make mistakes. Some can be forgiven, others cannot. I’m less concerned about the commissioner’s parking error, and more concerned with the many mistakes of Commissioner Schriro’s past, which are extremely relevant to her role overseeing state police.

“During her time as Commissioner of Corrections in New York, Commissioner Schriro participated in overseeing outrageous offenses at Rikers Island including extreme violence against teenage inmates and violating the rights of many inmates. The heinous assaults that took place at Rikers Island happened on Commissioner Schriro’s watch during which she failed to properly oversee Rikers Island. This was purposefully underreported when Connecticut state leaders were considering her reappointment. These are mistakes that we cannot forget nor forgive, and which clearly make the commissioner unfit to serve our state,” said Fasano.

A 2012 investigation found data about violence at Rikers Island was improperly withheld, and when investigators said the warden and deputy warden should be demoted for misreporting, Commissioner Schriro instead “ordered the removal from the report of any implication that the pair were culpable, current and former officials said,” according to a New York Times investigation.

A federal investigation found that failures of the system under Commissioner Schriro “resulted in serious harm to adolescent inmates at Rikers. As a result of staff use of excessive force and inmate violence, adolescents have sustained a striking number of serious injuries, including broken jaws, broken orbital bones, broken noses, long bone fractures, and lacerations requiring sutures.” Many cases of force were deemed excessive and unnecessary, and it was also found that such attacks were particularly common in areas without video surveillance.

In addition to violence against inmates, last month New York Daily News obtained a deposition in which a Department of Investigation inspector general revealed her frustration with city correction officials and the jail’s guards abetting the flow on contraband at Rikers Island. The official said her recommendations to address this issue were repeatedly ignored by then-Correction Commissioner Dora Schriro.

“Last year’s suicide of Kalief Browder is perhaps the most disturbing outcome of the environment at Rikers Island under Commissioner Schriro. Beginning at age 16, Browder was held at Rikers Island for three years without trial after he was accused of stealing a backpack which he denied. He was beat by guards and inmates. He was placed in solitary confinement for about two years and denied meals, medical care and bathing privileges. Years after his release, he committed suicide. Browder experienced the ‘deep-seated culture of violence’ of Rikers Island described by federal investigators. For a commissioner to turn a blind eye to any part of this violent culture is an abdication of one’s responsibility to best protect those confined within it,” said Fasano.