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Rikers Island Warden Transferred, Demoted After Inmate's Death

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TWC News: Rikers Island Warden Transferred, Demoted After Inmate's Death
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The warden at Rikers Island has been transferred and demoted after a mentally ill inmate died in an overheated cell in February.

The Department of Correction says Warden Rose Agro was transferred to another facility that doesn't house mentally ill inmates.

According to a DOC statement, there's no indication that Agro was directly involved or negligent, but it says since Agro's staff did not follow basic procedures, it indicates larger managerial problems.

Officials say a supervisor in charge of monitoring the heating system was also transferred.

A third correction officer, who was on post when the inmate died, has been suspended a total of 30 days, the maximum amount allowed under city law.

Former Marine Jerome Murdough, 56, had been on suicide watch and was supposed to be checked on by correction officers every 15 minutes.

However, officials say he had been left alone for four hours.

Meanwhile, labor leaders are defending correction officers following the deaths of Murdough and another inmate.

Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook said officers are totally unprepared to deal with the demands of thousands of mentally ill inmates.

He said officers receive only about 21 hours of mental health training during their courses.

Seabrook blamed former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for dumping mentally ill patients at Rikers instead of getting them help and demanded more help from Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"We are understaffed, we are overworked and we are abused, every single day," Seabrook said. "A correction officer or an inmate will die at the hands of an inmate in the Department of Correction really soon, and it's going to be on the steps of City Hall that I deliver that body."

In August 2012, inmate Jason Echevarria died after prosecutors say a former supervisor at the prison ignored his urgent medical needs.

Seabrook also voiced some complaints about incoming DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte, but the city is standing by the mayor's appointee.

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