Working conditions at the Queens Criminal Court complex’s detention center are so disgusting, correction officers have complained to state and federal workplace oversight agencies.
Rats scurry in the kitchen, roaches crawl in the locker room, and flies hover over hopelessly backed-up toilets, say filings with the state Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“The appalling conditions in the Queens courts are consistent with the
decaying infrastructure at our jail facilities,” said Benny Boscio,
president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.
Photos obtained by the Daily News show an overflowing toilet, ripped-up flooring stained with water from leaks, peeling paint, black mold creeping up the walls, a trashed locker room, and a disheveled food storage area.
As if working conditions weren’t bad enough, the Correction Department’s staffing crisis has cut the number of officers regularly working at the Queens Detention Center in Kew Gardens.
Roughly 40 officers out of the center’s detachment of 173 were moved to Rikers Island, and an additional 12 officers have retired since May 2021, correction sources said.
On top of that, the Correction Department has been constantly “redeploying” or temporarily moving officers to Rikers from the Queens courts on a spot basis, further reducing available staff.
The complaint alleges a security entry gate in the intake area has been broken for months, forcing officers to leave the gate unsecured.
The complaint to state officials describes food being stored improperly, broken laundry machines and cleaning equipment, and a filthy kitchen and rest rooms. Devices that filter air and drinking water for the detainees have been broken for months, the complaint said.
A factor in keeping the facility clean is that those jobs are usually done by detainees from Rikers — but there hasn’t been such a work detail in months, said Correction Department sources.
The situation has slowed down court operations by delaying the production of detainees at court hearings, said the sources.