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Thread: New York City Prisons

  1. #1
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    Default New York City Prisons

    Did You Know About This Floating Prison On The East River?


    via G Captain

    There are currently somewhere around 800 prisoners floating on the East River, housed inside of the Vernon C. Bain jail barge (named for a warden who died in a car accident). The Department of Corrections uses this to battle overcrowding in the Rikers Island jail complex, and has since 1992 when it built for $161 million. The barge, which was built in New Orleans and brought here, sits approximately one mile west of the SUNY Maritime College (here it is on Google Maps).


    via Google Maps

    Since it is floating and not permanently moored to the shore, "Coast Guard regulations require that she have 3 maritime crew on board at all time, including a mate, an engineer and an oiler."


    via Virtual Globetrotting

    The inmates on board are medium to maximum security, and are contained within 16 dormitories and 100 cells. There's also a law library, recreation rooms, and a basketball court on the top deck! We've reached out to the Department of Corrections with some more questions about this floating prison, and will update when we have more information.


    via G Captain

    This wasn't the first of its kind in New York City, either... in 1989 (when there was an influx of arrests), the NY Times reported that locals were outraged when the city proposed "to moor a prison barge on the Greenwich Village waterfront for up to five years." Eventually, "the Army Corps of Engineers denied a permanent mooring application and issued a one-year permit instead" for the 386-inmate barge, called the Bibby Venture. At the time of their report, it was sitting abandoned and waiting to be transported to Pier 40 on the Hudson River. It is currently listed on the DoC's website as being closed, but when it was open it was referred to affectionately by inmates as the Love Boat—one NY Times article painted the scene:
    ''We live large on the barge,'' declared an inmate, Angel Velazquez, 37 years old, who smiled as he stood on the sunbaked recreation deck watching other prisoners play a loping game of basketball as a sailboat fluttered by on the water below.


    (via New York)

    This barge was later sold to Englandand here's what it looks like today.

    http://gothamist.com/2012/09/20/did_...loating_pr.php

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    Cell damage: Rikers in ruins after years of neglect

    By BRAD HAMILTON

    Rikers is rotting!

    Two giant jailhouses sit empty and decaying, and the opening of a brand-new building last year was delayed after mechanical locks didn’t work and water leaked into a computer room.
    In addition, four of the island’s biggest jails — prefabricated structures from the 1970s — suffer from problems including rotted floors, broken pipes and heating and cooling units that frequently conk out.

    “It’s just horrible, deplorable conditions everywhere,” said Norman Seabrook, who heads the correction officers’ union.

    “You can fall through the floor in some places,” he said. “At the central control center, when it rains outside, it pours inside. They brought in contractors who’ve done nothing to fix the problems.”

    He said that at the island’s youth lockup, the Robert N. Davoren Center, some inmates can pop open their cells because the locks don’t work.

    A men’s jail, the James A. Thomas Center, is choked with asbestos contamination and was shut down in 2000. Built in 1933, it needs hundreds of millions in renovations and is unlikely to be used any time soon, Rikers insiders said.

    The department has been working to patch up the North Infirmary Command, a lockup for high-profile prisoners who need protective custody and those requiring medical care. It needs $21 million in repairs, including new showers, lighting, alarms and a sprinkler system. Sources said its old, crank-wheel system for opening cell doors is rusty. The department hopes to reopen the unit in July, two years after being shuttered.

    The women’s Rose M. Singer Center has for years had overheating problems and roof leaks, so the department built a $146 million, six-story annex in 2011. But it didn’t open until last March after needing fixes to its own roof, which leaked into the computer room, and malfunctions to the system used to lock cell doors, sources said.

    “We have issues with the building,” Norman said. “It leaks and the floors were not put down properly. They’re extremely slippery. And officers get stuck in the elevator all the time.”

    A Correction spokesman acknowledged the roof leak but said it “in no way has interfered with the occupancy of the annex since it opened in March 2012.” About 500 inmates are housed there in the 800-bed complex.

    The George Motchan Detention Center had to close one of its 200-bed modular housing units a year and a half ago after an electrical fire all but destroyed the structure.

    It didn’t help that Hurricane Sandy caused its own damage, eroding some of the shore and soaking two of the temporary trailers used for administrative work, including a judicial center where a Supreme Court judge conducts hearings.

    The union says the center is waterlogged, bowed and “at risk of structural collapse.”

    There are 10 separate jails on the 413-acre island, excluding the new women’s annex, and about 14,000 inmates are imprisoned there.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/r...3y5in5PujP27HJ

  3. #3

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    And this is a surprise, breaking news story because...?

    Among other questions to ask: is there any particular contention between the union and the City right now (contract negotiations, e.g.)?

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    City’s Annual Cost Per Inmate Is $168,000, Study Finds

    By MARC SANTORA

    The city paid $167,731 to feed, house and guard each inmate last year, according to a study the Independent Budget Office released this week. “It is troubling in both human terms and financial terms,” Doug Turetsky, the chief of staff for the budget office, said on Friday. With 12,287 inmates shuffling through city jails last year, he said, “it is a significant cost to the city.”

    Mr. Turetsky added that he was not aware of any previous studies that broke down the cost per inmate in the jails, but there have been national studies.
    And by nearly any measure, New York City spends more than every other state or city.

    The Vera Institute of Justice released a study in 2012 that found the aggregate cost of prisons in 2010 in the 40 states that participated was $39 billion.

    The annual average taxpayer cost in these states was $31,286 per inmate.

    New York State was the most expensive, with an average cost of $60,000 per prison inmate.

    The cost of incarcerating people in New York City’s jails is nearly three times as much.

    Michael P. Jacobson, the director of the City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance and a former city correction and probation commissioner, said part of the reason the city’s cost was so high was because it had a richly staffed system. “The inmate-to-staff ratio probably hovers around two prisoners for every guard,” he said.

    The budget office said 83 percent of the expense per prisoner came from wages, benefits for staff and pension costs.

    Mr. Jacobson noted the success in bringing down the city’s jail population — from a peak of about 23,000 in 1993 to about 12,000 people today — but said the fixed costs were not likely to go down soon.

    Still, he said, there were things that could be done to save money, like reducing the amount of time people sat in jail awaiting trial. Some 76 percent of the inmates in the city were waiting for their cases to be disposed, according to the budget office.

    The wait times have grown even as the number of felonies committed in the city has declined.

    Since 2002, the time spent waiting for cases to be disposed of has gone to 95 days, from 76 days, Mr. Jacobson said.

    The delays were worst in the Bronx, but Mr. Jacobson said the trend could be seen across the city.

    “On paper you would think that with a lot less work, these things should be blowing through the system and they are not,” he said. “If you have more time to do something, you will take more time.”

    Only 7 percent of inmates are women, according to the budget office report.

    They are also more likely to be minorities: 57 percent are black, 33 percent Hispanic, 7 percent white and 1 percent Asian.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/ny...nyregion&_r=1&

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    $168K is an AVERAGE, so the total is 168K x 12,287 = $2,064,216,000

    2 BILLION F'N DOLLARS!

    PER YEAR!

    What the blooming hell is going on with that??!@??!?

  6. #6
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Privatization of prisons plays a big part. The crews that run those companies need lots of fresh bodies to keep the profits up. And all of it is paid for by us sheeply tax payers, thinking we're safer for locking up pot smokers for years on end.

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    Bloody hell.


    Private Prisons: The More Americans They Put Behind Bars The More Money They Make

    by Michael Snyder
    March 12, 2013

    How would you describe an industry that wants to put more Americans in prison and keep them there longer so that it can make more money? In America today, approximately 130,000 people are locked up in private prisons that are being run by for-profit companies, and that number is growing very rapidly. Overall, the U.S. has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has 5 percent of the total global population. The United States has the highest incarceration rate on the entire globe by far, and no nation in the history of the world has ever locked up more of its own citizens than we have. Are we really such a cesspool of filth and decay that we need to lock up so many of our own people? Or are there some other factors at work? Could part of the problem be that we have allowed companies to lock up men and women in cages for profit? The two largest private prison companies combined to bring in close to $3,000,000,000 in revenue in 2010, and the largest private prison companies have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions over the past decade. Putting Americans behind bars has become very big business, and those companies have been given a perverse incentive to push for even more Americans to be locked up. It is a system that is absolutely teeming with corruption, and it is going to get a lot worse unless someone does something about it.

    One of the keys to success in the private prison business it to get politicians to vote your way. That is why the big private prison companies spend so much money on lobbying and campaign contributions. The following is an excerpt from a report put out by the Justice Policy Institute entitled “Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies“…

    For-profit private prison companies primarily use three strategies to influence policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and building relationships, networks, and associations.
    Over the years, these political strategies have allowed private prison companies to promote policies that lead to higher rates of incarceration and thus greater profit margins for their company. In particular, private prison companies have had either influence over or helped to draft model legislation such as “three-strikes” and “truth-in-sentencing” laws, both of which have driven up incarceration rates and ultimately created more opportunities for private prison companies to bid on contracts to increase revenues.

    If you can believe it, three of the largest private prison companies have spent approximately $45,000,000 combined on lobbying and campaign contributions over the past decade.

    Would they be spending so much money if those companies did not believe that it was getting results?

    Just look at what has happened to the U.S. prison population over the past several decades. Prior to 1980, there were virtually no private prisons in the United States. But since that time, we have seen the overall prison population and the private prison population absolutely explode.

    For example, between 1990 and 2009 the number of Americans in private prisons grew by about 1600 percent.

    Overall, the U.S. prison population more than quadrupled between 1980 and 2007.
    So something has definitely changed.

    Not that it is wrong to put people in prison when they commit crimes. Of course not. And right now violent crime is rapidly rising in many of our largest cities. When people commit violent crimes they need to be removed from the streets.

    But when you put those criminals into the hands of private companies that are just in it to make a buck, the potential for abuse is enormous.

    For example, when auditors visited one private prison in Texas, they “got so much fecal matter on their shoes they had to wipe their feet on the grass outside.

    The prisoners were literally living in their own manure.

    How would you feel if a member of your own family was locked up in such a facility?

    And the truth is that there seem to be endless stories of abuse in private prisons. One private prison company reportedly charges inmates $5.00 a minute to make phone calls but only pays them $1.00 a day to work…

    Last year the Corrections Corporation of America(CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, received $74 million of taxpayers’ money to run immigration detention centers. Their largest facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, receives $200 a night for each of the 2,000 detainees it holds, and rakes in yearly profits between $35 million and $50 million.
    Prisoners held in this remote facility depend on the prison’s phones to communicate with their lawyers and loved ones. Exploiting inmates’ need, CCA charges detainees here $5 per minute to make phone calls. Yet the prison only pays inmates who work at the facility $1 a day. At that rate, it would take five days to pay for just one minute.

    Speaking of work, private prisons have found that exploiting their inmates as a source of slave labor can be extraordinarily profitable. Today, private prisons are stealing jobs from ordinary American workers in a whole host of industries. The following is from an article by Vicky Pelaez

    According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

    And many of the largest corporations in America have rushed in to take advantage of this pool of very cheap slave labor. Just check out some of the big names that have been exploiting prison labor…

    At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.

    But of course some of the biggest profits for private prisons come from detaining young people. Today, private prison companies operate more than 50 percent of all “youth correctional facilities” in the United States.

    And sometimes judges have even been bribed by these companies to sentence kids to very harsh sentences and to send them to their facilities. The following is from a report about two judges in Pennsylvania that were recently convicted for taking money to send kids to private prisons…

    Michael Conahan, a former jurist in Luzerne County, was sentenced on Friday to 210 months in custody by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik II. Conahan was also ordered to pay $874,000 in restitution. [...] As Main Justice reported in August, Ciavarella, former president judge of the Court of Common Pleas and former judge of the Juvenile Court for Luzerne County, was sentenced to 28 years in prison and ordered to make restitution of $965,930. [...]

    Conahan’s role in the “cash for kids” scheme was to order the closing of a county-run detention center, clearing the way for Ciavarella, once known as a strict “law and order” judge, to send young offenders to private facilities. This arrangement worked out well for Ciavarella and Conahan, as well as the builder of the facilities and a developer, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

    The arrangement didn’t work out so well for the young offenders, some of them sent away for offenses that were little more than pranks and would have merited probation, or perhaps just scoldings, if the judges had tried to live up to their oaths.

    Are you starting to see why private prisons are such a problem?

    Hundreds of kids had their lives permanently altered by those corrupt judges.

    When you allow people to make money by locking other people up in cages, you are just asking for trouble.

    The more Americans they put behind bars, the more money these private prisons make. It is a system that needs to be brought to an end.

    http://www.infowars.com/private-pris...ney-they-make/



    PRIVATE PRISONS ARE BACK...

    Outlawed at the beginning of the 20th Century, private corporations are once again owning and operating prisons for profit. A controversial issue which dates back to the days that followed the Emancipation Proclamation, CORRECTIONS examines its re-appearance today amidst globalization and the most awesome growth of prisons in all of modern history, painting a complex portrait of what many are calling the "prison industrial complex."

    THE PRIVATE PRISON

    In the mid-1980's, fifteen years of massive and unprecedented growth within the US prison system hit a snag -- it ran out of money.

    When the state wants to build a new prison, it traditionally asks the voters to approve the cost through a bond issue. But this time, voters throughout the country began to say no.
    So many turned to private investment, to venture capital, both to fund new prison projects and to run the prisons themselves for costs around $30 to $60 per bed, per day. This began what we know today as the for-profit, PRIVATE PRISON INDUSTRY.

    THE PRISON BOOM PRODUCES PRISON PRIVATIZATION 1970 : 280,000 prisoners | 2000 : 2,000,000 prisoners

    In the late 1960's, the US began to expand the powers of law enforcement agencies around the country, generating by the 1970's an unprecedented reliance on incarceration to treat its social, political, economic and mental health problems.

    By calling new acts crimes, and by increasing the severity of sentencing for other acts, US citizens witnessed a "prison boom." Soon, prison overcrowding surpassed prison construction budgets, and politicians that had promised to build new prisons could no longer build them.

    So in 1984, a number of Tennessee investors with close friends in the legislature recognized a business opportunity and formed CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA (CCA). Their plan was to use venture capital to build a new prison and -- like a hotel -- lease their beds to the state in a profit-making endeavor.

    Today, nearly ten percent of US prisons and jails (meaning 200,000 prisoners) have been privatized, the three largest firms being CCA, WACKENHUT CORRECTIONS CORPORATION and CORNELL CORRECTIONS, INC. The federal government also contracts with them to house a growing number of undocumented immigrants and resident aliens, while some of the companies have facilities in countries outside the USA.

    Correctional Corporations have amassed large political influence through government ties, lobbying power and campaign contributions, while attempting to convert the discourse of justice into the language of the marketplace. In this way, they accuse government agencies as having a monopoly on corrections, espouse the need to downsize and cut through red tape. They claim that they can run prisons more efficiently and cheaper, doing a better job and saving the taxpayers money.

    CRITICISM OF PRIVATE OF PRISONS

    At the same time, prison privatization has met severe criticism. From human rights activists to criminologists, economists, religious and community leaders and even correctional officers' unions, privatization has been accused of corruption, corrosive incentives, and a resemblance to a historically racist practice of the old confederate U.S. South: CONVICT LEASING.

    Some claim that private prisons really don't save money, but like any for-profit business, attempt to maximize their own profit. This results in a reduction of essential services within the prison -- from medical care, food and clothing to staff costs and security -- at the endangerment of the public, the inmates and the staff.

    Other critiques are concerned with the power and influence of for-profit prisons. At a time when much of public discourse is questioning the war-on-crime and the war-on-drugs being fought as wars, critics claim that the incentive of profit skews public discourse away from reasoned debate about viable solutions to social problems.

    And finally, grasping the demographic make-up of today's prisons in the US and the history that's produced this make-up (roughly 50% African-American, 35% Latino and 15% White), the privatization of prisons threatens to re-institute a link between race and commerce that has not been seen since the 1800's.

    DOES THE PUBLIC SECTOR "PROFIT" FROM FOR-PROFITS TOO?

    There are also different ways that those who make the laws profit from the laws they make through prison privatization.

    The most direct are those who own stock in private prisons, such as former Tennessee Governor and his wife, Lamar and Honey Alexander, who owned stock in the early Corrections Corporation of America. There are also those officials who are on the actual payroll of these corporations, such as Manny Aragon, the New Mexico legislator who Wackenhut hired as a lobbyist for New Mexico when they were trying to begin privatization in that state.

    A third way comes from campaign contributions and political action committee moneys, through which the corporations financially reward those officials that allow private prisons in their states or jurisdictions, or who pass laws that will continue prison expansion -- public or private -- thus expanding the resource base of the privatization industry. (These are often the same law makers who are handsomely rewarded by public sector groups such as correctional officers' unions and other law enforcement groups, who also profit from criminalization and mass imprisonment).

    Less directly, the privatization of prisons contributes to and buoys the overall "culture" of law enforcement and criminal justice, one that levels our common sense understanding of the causes of our social problems and puts as their solution responses of violence, force and containment. By expanding the criminal justice system beyond the grasp of elected officials and civil servants, private prisons grow this culture in ways that are both ideological and practice-related.


    The private sector also serves as a "career alternative" for many, hiring bureaucrats and officials from the public sector who are either looking for a raise and stock options, or are looking to come out of retirement. These include people from the FBI, CIA, various state and federal departments of corrections, sheriffs, and even former attorney generals.

    And most importantly, public officials profit from prison privatization as it allows them to act with less accountability to the public, allowing prisons to be built without passing prison bonds for the public to vote on, and not having to worry how one will budget their inflammatory and expensive tough-on-crime rhetoric.

    DOES THIS MEAN THE PUBLIC PROFITS FROM PRIVATIZATION?

    Although the predominant myths about PRIVATIZATION (whether of prisons or anything else) claim that privatization means tax savings for the public, it actually costs us more. Even though on paper a private agency or corporation may present a lower figure to do the same job, once that money has been taken out of the public's hands, it no longer remains ours.

    In the public sector, tax money tends to make more of itself, meaning that each public dollar paid through one social service will spend itself four to eight times more elsewhere within the public sector. Once public money goes into private hands however, that money stays there and is gone for good. This is especially true if we consider that privatization corporations are usually given handsome tax breaks and "incentives," in the form of what some people call "corporate welfare," which means we are even less likely to see that money again.

    And finally, if we remember that the people who privatize are generally wealthy, this reminds us of an old story where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer -- where the hard earned tax money from each of us is funneled into the hands of the wealthy few for their own personal gain. While we each like to think we don't live in a society like that, today this is justified to us through the myth that "free markets" are the same thing as democracy; that if everything is privatized and ruled by the law of the dollar then democracy will be ensured.

    Add this to the fact that prisons do not make us safer and are by far the most expensive way of dealing with what we call "crime," we suffer other costs as well. Social costs of broken families and communities -- of both victims and perpetrators; hidden financial costs like paying for the foster care of prisoners' children; what we will only pay again when a prisoner re-emerges more desperate, addicted, uneducated and disenfranchised than they went in; the vengeance our society seeks through prisons and punishment will cost us twice the price of ensuring true equality, opportunity and social health at the roots of our society.

    The PRIVATIZATION OF PRISONS is but one case in which a few people exploit our society's larger problems for their own gain, at a cost we all bare and get little in return.

    http://www.correctionsproject.com/co.../pris_priv.htm


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    Many Held In NYC Jail Are Never Convicted

    By Robert Lewis

    Many are held in a New York City jail for weeks or months before trial but never convicted of a crime.

    Many people are held in New York City jails for weeks or months before trial who are never ultimately convicted of a crime.

    From 2006 through 2010, more than 10,000 people accused of a felony in New York City sat in jail before the trial started, only to be acquitted or have the case dismissed, according to figures from the New York City Criminal Justice agency, a nonprofit that does pretrial screening for the courts. The median detention for those who are never convicted ranged from two weeks to about a month.

    Mary Phillips, the agency’s deputy director of research, analyzed the data for WNYC. She found that of the 15,000 felony cases that ended without a conviction in 2010, about 10 percent of defendants were in jail the entire pretrial period.

    Those numbers alone aren’t necessarily a surprise, said Michael Jacobson, director of the City University of New York’s Institute on State and Local Governance.

    “Every criminal justice system is going to arrest people that ultimately don’t get convicted for a whole bunch of reasons: Because they didn’t do it, because they were the wrong person to arrest in the first place, because they arrested them and the evidence just fell short of conviction. There’s a whole bunch of sort of legitimate reasons,” Jacobson said.

    The problem is that the city court system has been plagued by delays in recent years, he said.

    “You want to ensure that for those who stay in Rikers Island, who are separated from their families, who are deprived of their liberty, that that period lasts as short as possible so that they get due process, that justice can be done, but it’s not justice denied or delayed,” Jacobson said.

    People accused of a felony in New York City spent an average of 95 days behind bars last year waiting for trial. That’s a 25 percent increase from a decade earlier, despite a drop in the number of new felony cases entering the system, according to a report Jacobson co-authored that in part urged the city’s next mayor to help make the courts more efficient.

    About 600 people charged with a felony in 2010 spent at least two months behind bars before being acquitted or having their case dismissed, according to the Criminal Justice Agency analysis. Nearly 100 defendants spent more than a year in jail but were never convicted of a crime.

    It’s not just an issue of justice. Extra jail time costs money. Current Independent Budget Office figures show the annual cost per jail inmate is $170,000.

    “No policy maker, if you said to them, ‘You know, we have $150 million to spend on public safety in New York City, do you think we should spend it on keeping people who are pretrial detainees another 18 days in jail?’ No one would say, ‘Yeah that’s a good idea,’” Jacobson said.

    If someone is guilty they should be convicted quickly andgo to prison, he added. If not they need to go home. The money spent on that jail time could go to hiring more cops or to supporting public safety programs, he said.

    Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, the man who oversees the state court system, has had some success lowering the backlog of cases in New York City. But still, as of mid-June, 55 percent of felony cases citywide were more than 180 days old.

    There are currently about 1,500 people who have been in a city jail for more than a year waiting for trial, according to city data.

    http://www.wnyc.org/story/many-held-...ver-convicted/

  9. #9
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Shameful. Good work, Mikey & Cy.

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Irony:

    Hiring more people to reduce court time would actually save money.

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    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    I doubt it. It sounds like they would waste even more time to save their new positions.

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    That's where accountability comes in.

    You know, just like the "private sector" they keep yelling about when it comes to things like Education.

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    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Most reform-minded jail systems in the country...
    Are there actually any? (serious question; I'm interested to know)


    New York Hires Consultant to Create Rikers Island Reform Plan

    By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ
    SEPT. 8, 2014

    In the wake of revelations about pervasive brutality carried out by jail staff and other serious problems at Rikers Island, New York’s correction commissioner announced on Monday that the city had hired the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, mostly known for its work advising corporations, to develop a plan for reforms.

    In a letter to correctional employees obtained by The New York Times, the commissioner, Joseph Ponte, said that starting on Tuesday, the team from McKinsey would be working at Rikers interviewing personnel, reviewing logbooks and evaluating procedures.

    McKinsey, which has little if any experience working with jails or prisons, will spend at least 12 weeks both at Rikers and the Correction Department’s offices in Queens under a contract that cost the city about $1.7 million, officials said.

    “I ask that you give them your full support, forthrightly and frankly identifying the full nature of the issues we jointly must confront,” Mr. Ponte wrote in the letter.

    The McKinsey review is probably unmatched in its scope and scale at the department, officials said, and comes as the agency has seen intense scrutiny from federal authorities, city officials and the news media amid spiraling levels of violence and allegations of widespread malfeasance at Rikers.

    Last month, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York released a report that described a “deep-seated culture of violence” against adolescent inmates at Rikers and gave the department 49 days to respond with proposed reforms. This followed a Times investigation published in July that documented 129 cases in which inmates were seriously injured in assaults by correction officers over 11 months. Many of the officers involved were found to have lied on official reports to cover up the attacks.

    A series of sweeps at Rikers by investigators with the Department of Investigation has led to 10 arrests of correction officers and their supervisors on charges of assault, contraband smuggling and falsifying documents.

    In an interview on Monday, Mr. Ponte said that he began planning to bring in an outside agency for a policy review when he took office in April. The McKinsey team, which will work in conjunction with the City University of New York Institute of State and Local Governance, will look into how officers are trained, how log books are kept and how inmates are processed when they arrive and where they are housed, among other areas.

    “Clearly we need to look at everything from top to bottom,” he said.

    Most difficult, he said, will be changing the culture at Rikers, where guards often respond to even minor slights from inmates with overwhelming force.

    Mr. Ponte said adolescent inmates and the jails that hold them would be a particular focus of McKinsey’s examination. Most reform-minded jail systems in the country, he said, generally have moved away from punishing young offenders and focus on treatment through programs.

    “We’ve never done that in New York,” he said. “How do you take officers that were hired and trained to deal with adult inmates, to manage the juveniles? That is a major cultural shift for staff to go through.”

    “What exists currently is an adult model in an adolescent facility,” he added.

    McKinsey is a global consulting firm often hired by Fortune 500 and other large companies, and it bills millions of dollars in fees. But it also contracts with governments of all sizes and was sometimes tapped by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration to evaluate and reform city agencies and programs. It was hired to assess New York’s school system and study the city’s management of technology projects. It was also brought in to appraise the performance of the Police and Fire Departments and suggest improvements after the Sept. 11 attacks.
    New York City’s jails, which have defied reform efforts for years, will pose a unique challenge for McKinsey.

    New York has the second-largest correctional complex in the country, with 10 separate jails on Rikers Island, which houses most of the city’s 12,000 inmates. The Correction Department also oversees jails in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens; 16 court detention facilities; and three hospital wards.

    The problems at Rikers are complex.

    Violence has surged in recent years, corresponding to the growing ranks of inmates with mental illnesses, who now make up nearly 40 percent of the population.

    Correction officers and other staff members have been accused of smuggling in drugs, alcohol and sometimes weapons and selling them to inmates.

    For record keeping, the department still mainly uses large paper logbooks, and many of the buildings are falling apart.

    Fred Patrick, a director at the Vera Institute of Justice, said McKinsey consultants might also have difficulty building rapport with officers, whom the United States attorney’s report described as adhering to a “powerful code of silence” when it comes to problems like brutality and corruption.

    “It won’t be easy for a group of consultants to get the correction staff to open up,” said Mr. Patrick, who was a deputy commissioner at Rikers during the 1990s.

    The CUNY institute has retained its own consultant, John Linder, an expert in big-city law enforcement agencies, and will “contribute subject matter expertise,” to assist McKinsey, said Marti Adams, a City Hall spokeswoman.

    Mr. Ponte, who was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and given a mandate to improve conditions at Rikers, said he hoped by the end of the year to have a map charting out a course for reforms.

    In his letter to employees, Mr. Ponte said that after its evaluation McKinsey would present recommendations, many of which “we can and must begin executing immediately.”
    “All final decisions, however, will be mine and mine alone,” he wrote.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/09/ny...l?ref=nyregion

  14. #14
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    He paid a very high price for just "trespassing". Not to mention that people are sent to Rikers for such a minor offence .

    ...where inmates frequently endure severe abuse and neglect...
    Oh. My. God.


    Inmate’s Death in Overheated Rikers Cell Is Ruled Accidental

    By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ

    The death of a mentally ill veteran in an overheated cell at Rikers Island this year was accidental, the New York City medical examiner’s office ruled on Friday in a case that drew scrutiny to abusive conditions at the jail complex.

    The inmate, Jerome Murdough, died on Feb. 15, when temperatures in his cell in a mental health unit at Rikers climbed to over 100 degrees.

    Mr. Murdough, 57, died of hyperthermia caused by exposure to the heat, said Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office. The heat’s interaction with an antipsychotic medication he was taking for a schizoaffective disorder contributed to his death, she said.

    Ms. Bolcer said she could not comment on whether the ruling had any legal consequences, adding that only medical considerations were taken into account.

    Even so, the ruling that the death was accidental raised questions about culpability.

    Mr. Murdough’s death provoked outrage among the city’s elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, and focused media attention on the conditions at Rikers Island, where inmates frequently endure severe abuse and neglect.

    This week, the family of another inmate who died at the jail, Bradley Ballard, sued the city, claiming that he had been locked in a cell for seven days last year and denied food, water and medication he needed to control his schizophrenia and diabetes.

    On Monday, the city announced that it had hired a management consulting firm, McKinsey & Co., to recommend changes to improve Rikers.

    Mr. Murdough was arrested a week before he died and charged with trespassing after a police officer found him in the stairwell of a public housing building in Harlem. He told the officer that he had sought shelter there from the cold.

    Following his death, the Department of Correction demoted the warden in charge of the unit where he died. One correction officer on duty that night was suspended for 30 days.

    The Bronx district attorney’s office has also opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Murdough’s death. Terry Raskyn, the spokeswoman for the office, said she could not comment on whether the medical examiner’s ruling would affect the investigation, but said the case remained open.

    Mr. Murdough’s sister, Cheryl Warner, said the ruling was “baffling to me.”

    Mr. Murdough’s family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city in May seeking $25 million.

    Derek Sells, the family’s lawyer, said the ruling would not detract from the case.

    “The fact that the medical examiner said it was accidental does not remove the fact that the prison guards at Rikers Island failed Jerome,” he said. “Their utter failure to protect Jerome under these circumstances rises to the level of criminally.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/13/ny...l?ref=nyregion

  15. #15
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Rehabilitation doesn't seem to figure much in the equation.

    I suppose the "you do the crime, you do the time" argument could be used, but what a bleak future these teenagers generally face. Treating the symptoms as usual. Some of them will leave prison "rehabilitated" in unintentional ways.


    Lawmaker Calls Use Of Solitary Confinement For Teens On Rikers Island 'Torture'

    by Christopher Mathias



    New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte said on Wednesday that he's ending solitary confinement for young inmates on Rikers Island, New York's largest jail facility. But advocates for prison reform say the practice could still take months to phase out, and emphasize that young inmates at Rikers face a complex set of problems of which solitary confinement is only one part.

    During a city council hearing, Ponte also said he didn't oppose a call for the hundreds of 16- and 17-year-old inmates at Rikers to be moved off the island altogether.
    "We'd be in favor of that if we find a suitable site," said Ponte. "We will continue to explore other buildings."

    The hearing, during which Ponte fielded questions from lawmakers for two hours about conditions for young Rikers inmates, came two months after a scathing Justice Department report that detailed the horrifying "culture of violence" in the country's second-largest jail facility. The report included accounts of guards employing "rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force" against 16-, 17- and 18-year-old inmates.

    "There's nothing in that report I disagree with," Ponte testified Wednesday.

    While lawmakers said they felt Ponte is taking steps in the right direction, they expressed concerns about the timeline for eliminating the practice of solitary confinement, and pointed to a number of other problems young Rikers inmates still face.

    New York City Council member Daniel Dromm invoked the story of Kalief Browder on Wednesday. Browder was 16 years old when he was arrested on a burglary charge in the Bronx. Always maintaining his innocence, Browder refused to accept any kind of plea deal, and ended up spending three years on Rikers without ever facing trial. During that time, he spent nearly 800 days in solitary confinement, also known as punitive segregation, where he languished 23 hours a day alone in a tiny cell. The conditions drove him to attempt suicide.

    "Officials on Rikers subjected this child to torture. There's no other way to put it." Dromm said Wednesday. "I am disgusted by what happened to Kalief."

    Ponte, appointed earlier this year by Mayor Bill de Blasio to overhaul the Department of Correction, reiterated Wednesday his promise to end the use of solitary confinement for adolescent inmates by 2015. Instead, such inmates will face a "provost of sanctions," Ponte said, including loss of privileges and being confined to a cell for a few hours at a time.

    City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she'd visited the punitive segregation cells for teens on Monday and was "alarmed to find one young man was scheduled to be there for 370 days."

    Norman Seabrook, the head of city's union for jail workers, was the only one to oppose the end of solitary confinement during Wednesday's hearing.

    "You do not want us to put them in punitive segregation, but instead you want us to give them 'a time out,'" said Seabrook, the president of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, in written testimony submitted to the council. "I give Paige, my granddaughter, a time out. She has committed no crime but yet you seek to employ the same form of menial punishment in convicted murderers and rapists. That is unacceptable."

    Council member Elizabeth Crowley, who chairs the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, pressed Ponte over the DOJ recommendation to move 16- and 17-year-old inmates off the island completely, a move she supports. She told HuffPost the "facility just isn't right," and that there need to be fewer inmates on each floor in order to prevent violence.

    "The process of getting to the island is overwhelming," said Crowley, citing Rikers' out-of-the-way location in the East River between Queens and the Bronx. It's important for adolescent inmates, she said, that their families can easily access whatever facility houses them, as visitations are an important part of rehabilitation.

    Crowley told Ponte it should take no more than three months to find a new location for adolescent inmates, and that she knows of at least one location in Queens that might fit the bill. She told HuffPost, however, that she's concerned Ponte's department is too "overwhelmed and underfunded" to focus on finding a new facility.

    Ponte told reporters only that his department is actively searching for new facilities in the city, and will consult with other city departments over the coming weeks to see what spaces they might have available.

    Seabrook, again, provided the lone voice of dissent during the discussion of moving adolescent inmates someplace new.

    "Some members of this council have suggested that young adults should be removed from Rikers Island and placed in another location," he said. "If that happens, do you want a jail built in your community? I think the answer to that is no."

    Crowley also said Wednesday she was alarmed to hear from the DOC that there are no psychiatrists on the island who specialize in adolescent mental health. There are roughly 300 inmates age 16 or 17 on the island at any given time, and about half suffer from mental illness.

    Crowley further said she was extremely disappointed that Ponte did not bring along the DOC's highest-ranked uniformed officer, department Chief William Clemons, to Wednesday's hearing for questioning. Ponte controversially promoted Clemons in May, even though a New York Times report would later reveal that a Department of Investigations audit had reached damning conclusions about him. That audit found that Clemons and another supervisor had committed a "complete abdication" of their duties while overseeing the Robert N. Davoren Complex, the Rikers facility where adolescent inmates are housed, and that they had drastically underreported incidents of violence.

    When pressed on Clemons' absence Wednesday, Ponte said that he was "on vacation." Crowley found this suspect.

    "I believe the administration intentionally didn't bring him to the hearing," she told HuffPost.

    Ponte, for his part, listed a slew of reforms that his department has undertaken since the release of the DOJ report. He pointed to new statistics showing that use of force by guards against teen inmates has dropped since mid-summer. During August and September of this year, there were 19 incidents in each month where Rikers guards used force against minors, a drop from between 30 and 40 incidents per month during the same period last year. The drop, Ponte admitted, was partially due to the fact that 18-year-olds are no longer housed with 16- and 17-year-old inmates.

    He also noted that his department has been installing hundreds of cameras within the Robert N. Davoren Complex to cover "blind spots" in the facility, following a recommendation made in the Justice Department report. There are now 400 cameras inside the RNDC, which officials hope will act as a deterrent against officer-on-prisoner brutality and other types of violence. Over the next year and a half, Ponte said, 200 more cameras will be installed, at which point he estimates that 80 percent of the facility will be under surveillance. After that, he said, he'll seek funding for another 200 cameras.

    Additionally, Ponte announced that a new unit of four internal investigators will be housed inside the RNDC starting next week. "They're there to reinforce the integrity, and make sure everyone's doing everything for the right reasons," he said. The ratio of inmates to guards in the RNDC has also been reduced, Ponte said, from 30:1 to 15:1.

    Finally, Ponte said he personally supports legislation in Albany to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York. At the moment, New York is one of only two states in the country to automatically charge 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/1...p_ref=new-york

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