Authorities announced today that a 30-year-old Rikers guard has been arrested and charged with promoting prison contraband, rape, and other charges. Nicole Bentley, a corrections officer at New York’s Rikers jail complex, is alleged to have planned to smuggle marijuana into the jail to an inmate with whom she was having a sexual relationship. The rape charge is based in New York law, which states that inmates cannot legally consent to sex inside the jail.
New York’s Department of Investigation reports that a drug-sniffing dog alerted authorities to Officer Nicole Bentley as she reported to work on Saturday at 5 a.m. When investigators did not find any drugs on her person or in her possession, they decided to initiate a search at her home. On arriving there they discovered 70 grams of marijuana which they allege she was planning to deliver to an inmate with whom she was having a sexual relationship.
The New York Post writes that the dog, named Gunnar, alerted on Officer Bentley in front of the George R. Vierno Center on Rikers Island. This same dog is also responsible for the arrest of another officer, Mohammed Sufian, during the same week. Officer Sufian was discovered to have synthetic marijuana hidden in his socks which he is alleged to have planned to bring into the complex for the purpose of selling to inmates.
Guard at N.Y.'s Rikers jail charged with rape, smuggling: NEW YORK (Reuters) – A corrections officer… https://t.co/f7gLXPRsOh (Reuters)
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After the stash of marijuana was confiscated from Nicole Bentley’s home, she was arrested and multiple criminal charges were filed against her, including rape in the third degree, official misconduct, sexual misconduct, promoting prison contraband, and criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree.
Bentley has worked at Rikers since May 2014. She now faces up to four years in prison on her primary charge.
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Officials have become aggressive over the last few years in attempting to identify and stamp out crime at Rikers in light of ever-growing criticism that the complex is rife with violence and abuse. Since 2014, over two dozen officers and staff members have been arrested and charged with crimes ranging from assault to official misconduct and smuggling. According to Yahoo News, Bentley is the second corrections officer to be arrested within the span of four days for attempting to bring illegal drugs into the complex.
Mark Peters, commissioner of the Department of Investigation made an official statement.
“This case involving sex for drugs puts on full display the dangers of corruption in our City’s jails and the connection between the drugs, inappropriate relationships and violence that pervade the system.”
He added that Bentley is the 26th corrections employee to be arrested and charged since his office began investigating allegations in 2014.
Rikers is infamous in the eyes of the public and is frequently portrayed in the media as violent and housing the most hardened of criminals. It consists of 10 separate jails and at any given time holds about 10,000 inmates, most of whom are awaiting trial or are serving out short post-conviction sentencing.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark added his thoughts about the arrest of Nicole Bentley.
“Such corrupt and indecent actions contribute to the troubling conditions on Rikers Island, and undermine safety and security there.”
Rikers Island, as it’s more widely known, is operated by the New York City Department of Corrections. It is located on an island on the East River between Queens and the Bronx and is adjacent to the runways of LaGuardia Airport. It is one of the largest correctional institutions in the world. According to Wikipedia, it employs a staff of 9,000 officers and 1,500 civilians who facilitate an average of 100,000 admissions a year. In May 2013, it ranked as one of the ten worst prisons in the United States, according to Mother Jones magazine.
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