Sentencing for officers in Rikers Island death

January 17, 2012 3:06:33 PM PST
A minimal amount of time behind bars is the plea deal sentence for two New York correction officers accused of allowing juvenile inmates at Riker's Island to use violence against other inmates.

"I'm not happy. It's not a 'win' situation for me, because my son is still gone," Charnel Robinson said.

But it is a small amount of justice for the mother of 18-year-old Christopher Robinson, an inmate at Rikers Island who was punched and stomped to death back in October of 2008.

His murder highlighted a rampant scheme known as "the program" in which corrections officers in the juvenile detention center allowed inmates to use threats, extortion and violence to police fellow prisoners.

"They were trying to extort him for his property and clothing, and food. He stood for something, and ultimately he was murdered," Robinson said.

Two of the officers involved in the scheme were in court for sentencing after a plea agreement.

The judge called their actions "disappointing, disgraceful."

The attorney for one of them, with a much different take, said that the officers were mere bystanders in a facility so hellacious that it should be shut down.

"It is the worst facility at Riker's Island. Inmates fight with inmates. The stronger prey on the weaker," defense attorney Renee Hill said.

But Robinson's case seems particularly tragic due to the details. His initial crime? Stealing a cell phone. He did his time, but was picked up on a parole violation because he was working late at his new job at staples.

"Trying to make something of himself, violating his curfew, but he was on a job working, and that's what put him back in jail for this tragedy to occur," Robinson family attorney Sanford Rubenstein said.

The two officers, 37-year-old Khalid Nelson and 33-year-old Michael McKie, will serve only a minimal amount of time in prison.

The Eyewitness News Investigators broke this story, revealing records that show Robinson's injuries were by far not the only ones in a facility where the brutality between inmates was documented for years.

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