Jail violence is increasing under de Blasio’s watch

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By Yoav Gonen | NY POST

The city’s jails have grown more dangerous every year under Mayor de Blasio, according to figures released Monday.

The inmate-on-inmate violence rate, inmate assaults on staff and the number of fights behind bars are all increasing, the Department of Correction said in the Mayor’s Management Report released on Monday.

The surges came under former jails chief Joseph Ponte, who retired in June amid questions about his misuse of a city vehicle and the significant time he was spending out of state.

Despite having de Blasio’s backing to the end, Ponte oversaw a 68 percent jump in the monthly rate of violent inmate-on-inmate incidents during his three-year tenure — from 32.9 per 1,000 inmates in fiscal 2014 to 55.2 in fiscal 2017.

The rate of incidents increased every single year under Ponte, including a 15 percent bump through June 30 of this year.

Serious injuries per 1,000 inmates grew to 2.7 in fiscal 2017 — a 50 percent increase from the 1.8 rate three years earlier.

The rate of inmate assaults on staff also rose, to 8.4 per 1,000 inmates in the latest fiscal year — up 42 percent from the rate of 5.9 in fiscal 2014.

“The latest jail violence statistics reaffirm the warnings we’ve made year after year for the past four years. We said that inmate assaults would go up when punitive segregation was eliminated for inmates 21 and under while failing to impose any restrictions for the same individuals who commit violent crimes behind bars,” said Correction Officers Benevolent Association president Elias Husamudeen.

“Unless this administration starts focusing on how to make the jails safer immediately, instead of closing Rikers in the distant future, these numbers are never going to go down. In fact, they will only get far worse.”

City officials argue that they’ve reduced the number of nonviolent, low-level crime offenders in the system, which has raised the concentration of inmates who are more likely to cause trouble.

They have repeatedly pointed to a decrease in the number of assaults, even though the number of inmates has also dropped — by 20 percent — since fiscal 2014.

“Our reforms are working even while DOC is managing a more difficult population,” said agency spokesman Peter Thorne.

“We have more people in custody with felony charges and gang affiliations, who are significant drivers of violence.”

The mayor has yet to appoint a replacement for Ponte.

 

Mayor's Management Report Sept. 2017 by New York Post on Scribd