So just how did things get so bad at Rikers Island, with guards there accused of the systemic abuse of inmates? One big reason is that the state has been hiring people who have no business being guards, reports the New York Times. Applicants with gang affiliations, criminal histories, close relatives or friends in prison, or documented psychological problems had no trouble getting hired. City investigators reviewed 153 recent Corrections Department hires and found that one-third of them warranted immediate disqualification or at least further scrutiny. Instead, all coasted through.
“There is a direct causal connection between hiring COs who have multiple arrests or gang affiliations or fail psychological examinations and the problems that we’ve been seeing of violence, contraband smuggling, and falsification of evidence,” the commissioner of the city's Department of Investigation says in the Daily News. "All of the other problems that we’re trying to fix can’t get fully resolved until we solve this problem first.” (Read more Rikers Island stories.)