New York City Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte retires

May 17, 2017: New York City Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte retired on Friday, May 12, 2017, announcing his retirement earlier than expected after a series of scandals that overshadowed his efforts to reform a system plagued by violence and corruption. Ponte, 70, announced his retirement after pressure for his ouster, three years after Mayor Bill de Blasio gave Ponte a mandate to transform a culture of abuse at the city’s Rikers Island complex and at the city’s other jails. Critics acknowledged that Ponte made progress, but recent allegations that his department’s watchdog spied on city inspectors marred his tenure. Ponte was also reprimanded for improperly using his city-issued vehicle for personal travel and for spending months away from the city at his Maine home. De Blasio appointed Ponte in 2014. De Blasio praised Ponte on May 12, 2017, saying Ponte was a leader of reform during his tenure in New York City, which was Ponte’s final work during a forty-year career in the corrections field. Ponte was previously a frontline Correctional Officer, a Prison Warden and a Commissioner at jails and prisons around the country. Ponte had planned to retire within the next several months, but he decided to leave sooner because the scandals had become a distraction, The New York Times reported before the official announcement on Friday, May 12, 2017, citing anonymous sources. As calls mounted this week, the week of May 14-20, 2017, for Ponte's ouster, de Blasio had staunchly defended him, saying the Commissioner acknowledged ethical mistakes and was making restitution.

Attribution: Reuters, The New York Times

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