Adams said last week he would reverse Mayor Bill de Blasio's policy of moving detainees out of solitary confinement and shifting them back to Rikers Island's general population before he leaves office.
Adams attempted to clarify Tuesday, saying he was specifically referring to continuing segregation of violent inmates.
"I don't support solitary confinement," he said. "I support moving dangerous people out of population and giving them the services so they will stop being dangerous."
The City Council members, many of them incoming progressives, fired back in a letter released to the media.
"Why am I learning about the letter through the media?" Adams, a former NYPD captain, asked during a news conference. "I am not going to be in a city where dangerous people assault innocent people, go to jail and assault more people. You cannot have a jail system where someone sexually assaults a staffer, slash an inmate and then say, 'It is alright. I'm going to give you an iPad and just hug you and say don't do it again.' No. If you are violent, you must be removed from population so you don't inflict violence on other people. That's clear."
He cited his experience as an officer in his stance.
"If you want to work as a partner, call me, hear my understandings and my beliefs," he said. "The one thing that's different from everyone that signed that letter and Eric Adams: I wore a bulletproof vest for 22 years and protected the people of this city. And when you do that, then you have the right to question me on safety and public safety matters. I think a know a little something about this."
He also criticized some of the incoming members.
"There is a body of people that are coming into the City Council, they have no desire in moving our city forward," he said. "Their desire is to be disruptive. What am I going to do? I'm going to ignore them. I'm going to stay committed, undistracted, and I'm going to grind. If they like it or not, I'm the mayor."
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