Why did City Hall just kick Correction Commissioner Louis Molina upstairs? The obvious guess is that it thinks the feds are at long last about to take over the city’s jails.

In theory, Molina will still be overseeing Rikers and the rest of the Correction Department as the new assistant deputy mayor for public safety, and still reporting to Deputy Mayor Phil Banks; he doesn’t even get a raise.

Yes, some fault Molina’s leadership, but he’s an experienced pro — and his replacement, current Correction Chief of Staff Kat Thomson, lacks much background in law enforcement or correction; her last post was as an assistant fire commissioner.

No, Molina hasn’t been able to stop the inmate deaths at Rikers (28 in his nearly two years), nor end the staffing shortages — an issue that started with excessive Correction Officer absences at Rikers and has since been prolonged by a hiring freeze imposed above his pay grade.

But he’s at least tried to professionalize the agency.

Yet the federal monitor is unimpressed, pointing in July to “pervasive dysfunction” wracking the Rikers jails, with fentanyl rife, COs beaten and maimed and gangs controlling parts of city jails.

Our fear has long been that labor issues have prolonged the jails’ dysfunctional culture — with the COs union itself still disordered by the corruption of its longtime head, Norman Seabrook.

The hapless mismanagement for the eight de Blasio years didn’t help, either.

Nor his buy-in to the ridiculous “replace Rikers” distraction: Years after that became official city policy, there’s still no realistic plan to close the island’s jails except “let everyone go.”

Most likely, the courts are about to grant US Attorney Damian Williams’ request to install a federal receiver — who will have the power to rewrite work rules and hiring requirements, among other issues, and won’t face the political pressures that can make rapid reform impossible.

Something has to change at Rikers; we pray that does the trick.




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