Brann, the acting replacement for retired Joseph Ponte, “knew the job, she knew the system, she knew the people. And I liked her approach to leadership,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
After months of searching around the U.S. for a new correction commissioner, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had found the person to head the Correction Department, which oversees the troubled Rikers Island jail complex, from within its own ranks, reports the New York Times. The agency will be led by Cynthia Brann, the acting commissioner who, like former commissioner Joseph Ponte, came to New York City from Maine. “We thought she combined alignment on vision with real experience in making the changes and reforms needed,”de Blasio said. “She knew the job, she knew the system, she knew the people. And I liked her approach to leadership.”
The department is still plagued by persistent episodes of violence by some inmates and staff at Rikers Island, where reforms, federal oversight and steady investment have yet to create a stable atmosphere. The department has also been tasked by Mr. de Blasio with making changes that would result in the closing of Rikers Island as a jail complex after 10 years. Glenn Martin, who has led protests in favor of closing Rikers, said de Blasio should have hired an outside candidate for commissioner and that the choice of a current city correction official “suggests that the mayor still fails to grasp the urgency of shuttering New York’s torture island.” More than 20 correction employees — including Ponte and Brann — were accused by investigators from the city’s Investigation Department of improperly using city vehicles. Brann told investigations that she used her city-issued, take-home car “almost exclusively for shopping.”