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NYC will reform city jails to ensure well-being, safety of inmates under new agreement

Rikers Island
Posted at 3:05 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 15:08:39-04

NEW YORK — The city Department of Correction promised reforms designed that will protect inmates as part of an agreement reached with federal authorities.

The DOC had been ordered in 2015 to reduce violence in Rikers Island jail facilities and ensure inmate safety and well being, but there's been non-compliance in the years since, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said. The Remedial Order announced Thursday requires the DOC to fix systemic deficiencies.

“As documented repeatedly through the federal monitor’s reports to the Court, the City and DOC have failed to fulfill core obligations under that agreement," Strauss said in an emailed statement. "While this Office recognizes that changing a decades-long culture of violence is not a simple task, the City and DOC must do better. By agreeing to adopt the measures set forth in this Remedial Order, they have taken a step in the right direction."

Under the agreement, the DOC will be required to increase the number of deputy wardens at city jails, evaluate the mental health of inmates who have repeatedly clashed with officers and deploy a new unit of investigators to probe all use-of-force incidents within 25 days.

When asked for comment, a DOC spokesperson referred PIX11 to the city's Law Department.

“The USAO recognized that DOC has implemented a number of reforms but that more work needs to be done," Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci said. "The City worked with the Monitor and the USAO to develop the measures set forth in this order and we are committed to implementing them, as well as all the Nunez reforms, to further the safety of everyone on Rikers.”

Correction Officers' Benevolent Association President Benny Boscio slammed the reform agreement.

“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office is yet another distortion of the exemplary job Correction Officers are performing every day in an almost impossible environment," Boscio said. "The recommendations laid forth in this agreement are straight out of the Legal Aid playbook, one sided and only concerned with compromising the safety of our officers by treating them like the criminals they are charged to supervise."