NEW YORK — The head of internal investigations at the embattled Rikers Island jail complex resigned Aug. 22 amid intense scrutiny over civil rights violations and inmate deaths.
Deputy Commissioner Florence Finkle’s departure came weeks after federal investigators released a blistering report that criticized the jail system for poor accountability, a “deep-seated culture of violence” and “excessive and inappropriate” solitary confinement.
Finkle did not immediately return a message seeking comment. City spokeswoman Marti Adams said no replacement for Finkle had been named.
Finkle, 52, joined the Department of Correction as the Deputy Commissioner for Integrity and Policy in 2010 after stints as a city prosecutor and as the first Assistant State Attorney General in charge of the Medicaid fraud unit, according to her online resume.
She was Executive Director of the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that investigates complaints of police misconduct, from 2002 to 2007.
Finkle’s role at Rikers included setting standards for staff performance and professionalism and overseeing investigations of possible staff misconduct, including excessive use of force.
The federal report, the result of a 2 1/2-year Department of Justice investigation into violence at three Rikers Island juvenile jails, said correction officers routinely violated constitutional rights and subjected teenagers to “rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force.”
The report focused on the facilities for 16- to 18-year-olds, but investigators said its conclusions could extend to all Rikers jails.
Those facilities have been the subject of extensive reporting by The Associated Press, including about the failure of officers to follow safeguards to prevent suicides and the deaths of mentally ill inmates.
One inmate died in a 101-degree cell.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called Rikers “a place where brute force is the first impulse rather than the last resort; where verbal insults are repaid with physical injuries; where beatings are routine while accountability is rare; and where a culture of violence endures even while a code of silence prevails.”