Assaults on NYC correction officers surges over past year

Bernadette Hogan

The city’s correctional officers took a serious beating last year from inmates, as new data shows a dramatic increase — and a five-year high — in serious injuries sustained as the result of an assault.

Serious staff injuries by an inmate jumped to 65 percent on a monthly average this year compared to 49 percent in 2019, according to the Mayor’s Management report released Thursday.

The same statistics were just a recorded 20 percent in 2016, 24 percent in 2017 and 42 percent in 2018.

Meanwhile, correctional department use of force incidents resulting in serious injuries to those in custody increased by one percent compared to last year; those incidents resulting in minor injury declined by two percent and those resulting in no injury jumped nearly 20 percent — from 49.03 percent in 2019 to 77.95 percent this year.

“As legislation diverting low-level, nonviolent offenders has gone into effect and the Department’s overall population has declined, to historic levels due to intentional efforts by the City and others in response to COVID-19, the Department has found itself managing a particularly challenging population made up of individuals charged with more serious offenses, who are more frequently affiliated with gangs, and who are more violent while incarcerated,” according to the report, pointing to legislative changes at the beginning of 2020 related to newly implemented bail reform policies.

“The growth in the rate of violent incidents among people in custody was 16.3 percent, and the number of slashing and stabbings incidents increased 16 percent, from 106 to 123.”

Overall jail population growth was recorded at 7,367 at the start of the 2020 fiscal year last July, and decreased to 3,927 at the end of June of this year.

Other new statistics include:

  • assault on staff by individuals in custody jumped to 15.8 percent, from 12.5 percent
  • violent incidents among individuals in custody rose to 80.1 percent from 68.9 percent
  • serious injury to individuals in custody as a result of violent incidents among individuals in custody increased 9.6 percent from 2.5 percent — a 284 percent increase between 2019 and 2020

Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association president Benny Boscio Jr. blasted the numbers in a statement: “With assaults on correction officers up significantly and having nearly doubled over the past four years, coupled with a 16% increase in stabbings and slashings and a near 300% increase in inmate on inmate attacks since just this past year, how can anyone possibly justify eliminating punitive segregation?”

“These numbers should wake up every elected official in this city and redirect their focus on making our current jails safe right now instead of looking to build new jails years from now. How many more lives must be threatened by these asinine policies?” he added.