Top Corrections Official Resigns Amid Rikers Island Corruption Scandal

October 28, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

At long last, one of the men at the center of the mass cover-up of violence within Rikers Island has resigned, reports The New York Post. William Clemons, the Chief of the Department of Corrections, has “submitted his resignation Monday under pressure from Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte,” according to the Post’s sources.

Clemons became warden at Rikers in April 2011. He, along with the new deputy warden Turhan Gumusdere were credited with lowering prisoner attacks by nearly two-thirds and within a month, were both promoted. Then an investigation into the report showed that the numbers were manipulated, leaving hundreds of inmate fights omitted from their report. Though an internal audit recommended that Clemons and Gumusdere be demoted, they were not. Eventually, they were both promoted.

Then, in September 2014, the New York Times exposed Rikers for the cover-up and inquired into why Clemons and Gumusdere had been promoted despite the investigation’s findings. At the time, Ponte issued the following statement to the Times:

“Commissioner Ponte stands by his appointment of Chief Clemons and Warden Gumusdere, who have shown exemplary leadership in the current roles and are fully committed to the Department’s reform agenda.”

Less than two months later, according to one of the Post’s sources, Clemons “was told to resign or be fired, so he was forced out by Ponte.”