The talk about new body scanners on Rikers Island veered into a more serious topic Tuesday.
"I was particularly troubled that part of the protocol includes that another incarcerated person has to search the waste," Bryanne Hamill, a Board of Correction member, said at a hearing. "That's not what the state does; that's part of a job of an employee."
On Tuesday, a member of the city's Board of Correction, the panel overseeing New York City's jails, alleged the department was using inmates to search human waste for contraband.
"That incarcerated person is isolated from all other incarcerated persons and they are put in special cells and all of their waste products are screened," Hamill said. "My understanding, according to DOC's [Department of Correction] information provided to the board, is the current protocol calls for another incarcerated person who has a work detail to actually don a hazmat suit and do the screening and the search through the feces of another incarcerated person, looking for the weapons that's thought to be held."
"It's degrading," Hamill continued. "to expect an incarcerated person to screen the waste of another incarcerated person."
Scanning machines were just switched on in July. Since then, when inmates fail scans or refuse one, they are separated from the rest of the jail population.
Officials told NY1 that inmates can hide contraband in their rectums, which is why the search of human waste would occur.
We tried to ask the correction department commissioner about the allegation Tuesday, but he did not stop for questions.
In an email to NY1, the department denied it was happening. An official said, "No one in custody is ever made to inspect the waste of another detainee."
The jail oversight board was scheduled to vote Tuesday on this new practice of separating inmates believed to have contraband. But because concerns were raised, that vote was tabled.
The board and the department plan on working on new regulations for how this unit will work, including how long an inmate can stay isolated.
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