Probe Finds Porous Security At Rikers Island

NEW YORK (AP) -

Water bottles filled with vodka that go uninspected. Razor blades and other objects waved on through, even when they set off metal detectors.

Gaping security holes at the city’s Rikers Island jail allowed guards and other staffers to easily smuggle in all manner of contraband to the inmates they are supposed to be watching, city investigators found.

Such porousness has proved lucrative to those willing to take the risk, with inmates paying an average of $600 in “courier fees” for each delivery. In one case, a guard got $2,000.

“Clearly our investigation indicates that this is a real problem,” said city Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters, who released a scathing report Thursday that recommended an overhaul of screening at the 10-jail Rikers complex, including better-trained security workers and more drug-sniffing dogs.

It followed a series of smuggling sweeps at Rikers, which this year alone resulted in charges against 10 guards and the arrest of 30 inmates.

The report found one undercover investigator posing as a guard was able to smuggle in more than $22,000 worth of contraband in separate attempts at six different Rikers jails. Guards were routinely allowed to put lunches on top of x-ray machines, rather than through them, and were regularly waved through security after setting off metal detectors.

One jail nurse told investigators he sneaked clear alcohol such as vodka in Poland Spring water bottles, while darker liquor could be put into Snapple iced tea bottles, neither of which would be checked by guards.