The corrections department is handing out thousands of knockoff Nintendo Gameboys to jail inmates so they can entertain themselves playing Tetris and Donkey Kong — while guards say they need more face masks and manpower, The Post has learned.
The city has gotten some 5,500 of the hand-held gaming devices, which they will distribute to the 3,800 inmates who are still on Rikers Island and other city jails in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The consoles were purchased for $15 each from Finesse Creations Incorporated and were purchased by the city, a Correction spokesman said.
“Too bad they couldn’t have enough masks available to prevent 1,000 correction officers from getting COVID and six dying from it,’ complained one correction source.
The source noted that the devices come in gang colors — Bloods red, Latin Kings yellow and Crips blue.
“Why this? Why now?” the source raged. “Why not address safety issues related to COVID instead of entertainment enhancements for criminals?”
The source added, “As even the Mayor would say, this is yet another dumb managerial mistake.”
A Correction spokesman said the gaming consoles are meant as an “adjustment” to jail programming, given that inmates are stuck in their cells and can’t get visitors due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We have adjusted our normal programming with respect to social distancing restrictions and suspended visitations,” said spokesman Peter Thorne.
“The safety & health of people in our facilities always comes first, which is why we have been distributing ample PPE to staff and detainees alike and will do so for the duration of the pandemic.”
In December, The Post exposed how inmates were being given free transit passes and $50 in debit cards as parting gifts when they were released from Rikers.
The number of inmates in NYC has plummeted as arrests and prosecutions decline and early releases skyrocket into the thousands.