Several watchdog groups have suggested that the NYPD's enforcement of coronavirus lockdown measures has been tinged (if not motivated) by racial disparity and perhaps even racial profiling. Now, new data shows that-intentionally or not-minorities such as the black and Hispanic communities in New York have suffered the most. Could this point to a significant outbreak of Civil Rights violations in New York City?
Is New York City facing a Civil Rights crisis caused by the Coronavirus? "Aggregate communities" like those individuals who are hospitalized or in long-term care facilities have been hit the hardest by the health crisis of 2020 but another population-those incarcerated in NYC prisons-have also suffered due to cramped conditions and the inability to effectively distance themselves from potentially sick individuals.
The Legal Aid Society and the New York Civil Liberties Union have filed a class-action lawsuit against the governor and the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in an attempt to reform a parole system that they deem irreparably broken. The civil rights lawsuit in New York stems from multiple individual cases concerning improper imprisonment of individuals before they were ever convicted of a crime.
It's no secret that the NYPD and the New York Corrections system has failed many victims in the past but a new report shows that in 2017 the city was forced to pay out a record-breaking amount to settle lawsuits and claims against law enforcement agencies in order to compensate victims unjustly detained, imprisoned, injured and convicted of crimes they didn't commit. Indeed, according to an annual report released by the NYC comptroller, the city paid out a staggering $308.2 million last year to victims and family members of those unfairly hurt by the justice system.
Civil Rights Violation in New York Results in $200K Settlement
The City banned solitary confinement for young prisoners three years ago (in 2015) citing the adverse effect of such confinement on young offenders. The new policy expanded on an existing one that disallowed the practice for individuals 17-years-old and younger. The policy shift was part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's attempt to reform the prison system in New York City and reduce or even eliminate the potential for Civil Rights violations involving incarcerated individuals. However, an investigation reveals that the city is still housing young offenders in solitary confinement situations spurring advocates to shine a light on these potential Civil Rights violations in New York City once again.
Rikers Island has a long history of inmate assault in New York City. As a result, there has been a concerted effort over the past couple of years to clean the jail facility up and keep inmates safe from corrections officer assault.
Rikers Island has earned a bad reputation for excessive force in New York City including civil rights violations and the creation a "culture of prisoner abuse" over the years but the latest black eye for the jail complex stems from a bizarre incident in 2011. Barry Crawford, a Queens resident, was visiting a relative during regular visiting hours when he claims Rikers Island guards beat him.
Five men unfairly convicted of raping a woman in Central Park in 1989 have finally settled a false arrest/imprisonment lawsuit against the City of New York. The five, who became known as "The Central Park Five," were just teenagers at the time of the crime but were labelled as a "wolf pack" and "wildling" children before and during their trials. All were sentenced to years in prison but in 2002 their convictions were overturned. The men, now adults, have been fighting for monetary compensation for their false imprisonment in New York since their respective releases.
District Judge Shira Scheindlin says that the New York Police Department's policy of Stop and Frisk violates civil rights afforded to American citizens and that the policy is essentially "indirect racial profiling." The controversial policy has been lauded by Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and others for its ability to allegedly prevent crimes before they happen. In fact, the mayor said in a statement that Stop and Frisk has saved thousands of lives.