A controversial new report shows that the increase in correction officer related inmate assaults in New York City (specifically at the Riker’s Island prison) is directly correlated to the two-fold increase of injury claims filed by inmates against the Department of Corrections. The comptroller’s office’s data positively linked the 114% increase in violence over the last five years to the increase of inmates with mental health issues and the use (or misuse) of solitary confinement and questionable tactics many call abuse.
The facility is the country’s second largest jail facility and currently holds 12,000 inmates. But victim’s advocates and personal injury attorneys say that the prison guards are inadequately equipped to handle inmates with mental health problems and often resort to use of force too quickly.
Indeed, the Office of Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, says that not only did the department use excessive force but also active neglect. For instance, Bharara called to light instances of teenage inmates being left in solitary confinement for months at a time for seemingly minor transgressions.
One shocking case involved a young man sentenced to Riker’s because he couldn’t make a $250 bail on a misdemeanor. The individual tried to commit suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell but instead of administering medical aid and giving the inmate a mental evaluation, New York City investigators found that corrections officers handcuffed him on the floor and punched him so hard he suffered a perforated bowel.
With an increase in claims of inmate brutality in New York, there comes an increase in judgments as well. The same data shows that in the five year period in question, New York City paid an increasing amount of settlements in personal injury and brutality cases. In fact, in 2009 only 1,047 claims were paid. In 2014 that number increased to 2,245.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of corrections officer inmate assault in New York correctional facilities contact a New York City civil rights attorney immediately to discuss your case confidentially. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122.