MOSCOW, August 14 (RIA Novosti) - A report released on the Rikers Island jail complex by the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan revealed that a combination of ferocity by prison guards and the Bloomberg administration’s negligence are to blame for the jail’s recent resurgence of violence, The New York Times reported.
“Bloomberg did nothing to restrain his out-of-control work force at Rikers,” Mary Lynne Werlwas, a Legal Aid lawyer, was quoted as saying by the paper Wednesday.
The two-and-a-half year investigation focusing on the abuse of teenage inmates by correction staff addressed the causes of violence, blaming New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration, the newspaper reported.
Under Bloomberg, the number of prison staff was reduced, cutting more than 3,000 correctional positions, forcing the remaining officers to work overtime. The strain of the long hours, in combination with a 40 percent increase in inmates with mental illnesses, is at the heart of the problem.
More recently, staff cuts have resulted in inmates being locked in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, worsening inmate-guard interactions, a senior health department official said, the newspaper reported.
Correction Department data showed that the use of force by officers on inmates increased by 90 percent during Bloomberg’s last term.
“For adolescent inmates, Rikers Island is broken,” Preet said.
The investigation found that nearly 44 percent of the adolescent male population in custody as of October 2012 had been subjected to a use of force by staff members at least once.
According to the report, violence against teenage inmates steadily increased year by year with inmates under the age of 18 sustaining 1,057 injuries in 565 reported uses of force by correctional officers in the 2013 fiscal year alone.
Since taking office in the 2013 election, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to bring Rikers under control by appointing Joseph Ponte as correction commissioner and allocating in the city budget $26 million for more officers as well as $6 million for mental health programs. After the report’s release last week, prosecutors gave the new mayor 49 days to submit a plan to reduce brutality at Rikers or face federal intervention.