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Lynelle Maginley-Liddie Assumes Role of Commissioner for NYC Jails

09 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

Lynelle Maginley-Liddie assumes the position of DOC Commissioner for NYC jails in Mayor Adams’ administration.

Lynelle Maginley-Liddie Assumes Role of Commissioner for NYC Jails - Inmate Lookup

Mayor Adams has appointed Lynelle Maginley-Liddie on Friday as the new correction commissioner, taking over the agency that operates Rikers Island and other city jails. Her appointment coincided with the federal courts gaining momentum for a takeover.

Maginley-Liddie, the second Black woman chosen to lead the agency, was the first deputy commissioner under her predecessor, Louis Molina, who is taking on a newly-created role at the Public Safety Philip Banks as assistant deputy mayor under Deputy Mayor.

Mayor Adams said Maginley-Liddie stood out for her “emotional intelligence” and added that she is ready to face the challenge of the possible federal takeover, which will play out over the next several months or longer in the courts.

Maginley-Liddie promised to work with the current federal court-appointed monitor, Steve Martin, who monitors staff use of force and violence at Rikers Island and other New York city jails.

In a letter presented to the courts on Friday, Martin stated that he and his team have collaborated with Maginley-Liddie for an extended period, establishing a positive working relationship. The Monitoring Team, in their assessment of her performance at the Department, has observed the Commissioner to be transparent and forthright.

Additionally, Martin and his monitoring team indicated that Maginley-Liddie’s appointment seems to signal the city’s effort to change its approach, emphasizing transparency and renewing its commitment to consultation and collaboration.

On Friday, Mayor Adams sent a list of correction commissioner candidates to Martin for review, expressing his belief that improvements have been made and a receiver is unnecessary, emphasizing the need to showcase good faith and good communication.

He questioned the success of receiverships in the country, and Sylvia Hinds-Radix from the city Corporation Counsel stated that they don’t see what a receiver can do better than what the city has done.

On November 17, lawyers for inmates filed a motion in Manhattan Federal Court, asserting the city’s incapability to fix the jails and advocating for a federal court-appointed receiver. The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed support for a receivership through a letter.

Attorney General Letitia James, jail rights groups, public defenders, former city officials, and nonprofit organizations filed amicus briefs in favor of receivership on Dec. 1. Of the nine members of the municipal Board of Correction, five favor a receiver. The takeover appears to be opposed by three other board members, and the newly appointed member has not made any statement regarding the matter.

The Legal Aid Society responded to Maginley-Liddie’s appointment, stating that the current state of the Department of Correction requires an independent body like a receiver for necessary systemic changes.

Correction officers union president Benny Boscio praised his “productive” relationship with Maginley-Liddie, emphasizing the need for strong leadership in challenging times for the agency.

Maginley-Liddie faces challenges, including the possibility of a federal takeover and the closure of Rikers Island under city law by 2027, with construction delays and deplorable conditions in the jails.

Adams chose Maginley-Liddie over other candidates with extensive correctional knowledge, including Charles Daniels, who had a contentious encounter with Martin, and Maginley-Liddie’s oversight of the Health Management Division has undergone a significant overhaul to reduce abuse.

As the second Black woman corrections commissioner, she immigrated from Antigua 20 years ago and started as a lawyer in a private practice before becoming an agency attorney hired by then-Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann. Lynelle Maginley-Liddie has risen through various roles and is currently residing in Manhattan with her husband and two children.