Inmate Assaults At Rikers Island Continue To Be Out Of Control By Michael Joseph on August 20, 2014

Our New York City police brutality lawyers have handled numerous inmate injury cases including inmates injured by negligence, other inmates and even corrections officers. Assaults on younger inmates has been a serious and recurrent problem at Rikers Island. A U.S. Attorney probe into the culture at Rikers Island found a deep-seated culture of violence at the correctional institute.

Even though Corrections Law requires that juvenile offenders be kept separate at all times from adult offenders, older offenders continue to act in a predatory matter towards younger inmates. In particular, since New York charges 16 year olds as adults, 16 and 17 year olds were housed with 18 year olds, which allowed the 18 years to abuse the 16 year olds. The report found that in the last two years, there were 1,200 incidents in which Correction officers used force against young inmates, In 2012 there were 795 inmate attacks against other inmate and in 2013, there were 845 inmates attacked by other inmates.There were also over 500 instances in 2013, where corrections officers used force and injured an inmate. That is more than one per day. The Federal report noted that these numbers are probably artificially low because many assaults go unreported.

While New York City Department of Corrections utilizes a classification system which is supposed to keep non-violent offenders away from violent offenders, when inmates don’t “follow the program”, i.e., do what ever a corrections officer says, when they say it, they are often put in a “hot room” or a gang unit which much more hardened and violent offenders as retribution. All too often correction officers simply look the other way when inmates attack other inmates. What really goes on at Rikers, is very different than what the law says should happen. The corrections officers who mistreat inmates often cover up what really happened and falsely accuse the inmate of resisting.

While the Department of Justice has called for system-wide changes that will safeguard the Constitutional rights of adolescents, and prevent them from continuing to suffer unnecessary harm while in City custody, our New York City attorneys are skeptical as to whether a genuine cultural change will occur. Rikers Island has been an extremely violent facility for years and it will take more than lip service to change that. In fact, Council Member Daniel Dromm recently commented that ” Brutality at Riker’s Island has been well documented,”The Corrections unions request that jurisdiction for crimes that occur at RIkers be transferred to Queens from the Bronx is not likely to help the situation, since the Queens prosecutors office is likely to be more cop friendly than the Bronx prosecutors.

The public outcry has reached a point where Florence Finkle, a New York Correction Department investigator resigned last month. A Federal inquiry identified numerous systemic failures including inadequate supervision, inadequate reporting of use of force by corrections officers, an inadequate grievance system in which inmates can address complaints, and inadequate discipline for the unnecessary use of force or excessive force.

Our New York lawyers have handled many types of cases arising out of attacks in Correctional facilities including inmate on inmate attacks, correction officer attacks and even sexual attacks.

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