FACTS

NEW YORK CITY JAILS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

CULTURE OF BRUTALITY

► In fiscal year (FY) 2010, there were 128 allegations of excessive force by staff with confirmed serious injuries.  This was the highest number of allegations in the past decade, and significantly higher than the 10 year average of 98 incidents.

► The NYC Law Department’s Workers’ Compensation office reported that 434 officers were injured by way of assault in FY 2010, and that most injuries were to uniformed staff’s hands, wrists, and fingers. These kinds of injuries are often sustained after using force by punching or striking another person.

► In FY 2010, the incidence of prisoners being stabbed and slashed with weapons while in custody increased – 34 stabbings and slashings in FY 2010 vs. 21 in FY 2009.

► In 2009-2010 the City paid over $3.2 million dollars to settle cases by victims of excessive force.

► In May 2012, the Legal Aid Society brought a class action lawsuit, Nunez v. City of New York, alleging widespread correction officer brutality against inmates. This lawsuit describes how the highest ranks of the DOC are staffed by officers with a history of misconduct.

► Funding for correction officer training has been reduced by approximately 40% over the past ten years.

► In recent years, NYC paid out $83 million dollars to settle lawsuits about illegal strip searches.

 

23-HOUR CONFINEMENT IN “THE BOX” 

► Punitive segregation, or being in “the box” or “the bing,” means that you are locked into a cell for a minimum of 22 to 23 hours a day.

► New York City Department of Correction (DOC) sets aside between approximately 200 and 300 punitive segregation beds solely to punish people diagnosed with mental illness.

► The New York City jails have one of the highest rates of solitary confinement in the United States, exceeding the national average of between 2 and 4%.

► In December 2010, there were 1,141 prisoners sentenced to a total of 58,925 days in punitive segregation.

► By the of FY2013, the New York City Department of Correction intends to increase its solitary confinement capacity by 69%. Once complete, “bing” beds will number 1,215, or approximately one for every ten incarcerated individuals.

 

INADEQUATE MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT

► Nationwide, the incidence of serious mental illnesses is two to four times higher among prisoners than it is in the general population.

► About a third of the people incarcerated in NYC receive mental health treatment while in jail.

► 45% of juveniles and 55% percent of women in DOC facilities have a mental illness.

► The NYC jail population is decreasing, but the number of people treated for mental illness in jail is increasing.

► Prisoners treated for mental illness are more likely to remain in NYC jails for longer periods of time than other prisoners. Women treated for mental illness can expect to stay in jail 3.6 times longer than other prisoners.

 

NUNEZ V. CITY OF NEW YORK

The Legal Aid Society recently filed a class action complaint in federal court describing unconstitutional brutality in New York City Department of Correction (DOC) facilities. [1] The complaint paints a picture of a jail system that rewards and promotes officers who have been found guilty of misconduct. Among its findings:

► Deputy Chief Carmine LaBruzzo served as a captain in the Central Punitive Segregation Unit (“CPSU”) from 1996-2003, when he was charged with personal involvement in no fewer than six use of force violations.

► Assistant Chief of Security Mark Scott was suspended for 42 days in 1997 after an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that he had struck a prone incarcerated individual with his baton “as though he were spear fishing.” According to the ALJ, Scott followed up his brutality with a misleading report after the assault. Then a Security Captain in the CPSU, Scott has worked his way to the very top echelon of the DOC.

► As a captain in 2002, Eric Ramos lured an inmate out of his cell and instructed his officers to beat the inmate, an act that came to light in the Ingles v. Toro class action. Today, Ramos is the Assistant Deputy Warden in charge of the CPSU. Since he took command, inmate complaints of excessive force in the CPSU have skyrocketed.

► In the mid-1990s, an Integrity Control Officer witnessed Ronald Jorgenson brutally assaulting an individual and reported his unlawful use of force—as well as the fact that he had not been disciplined—to the Deputy Warden of Security. Far from facing opprobrium for his assault, Jorgenson is now the Deputy Warden for Security at AMKC.

► An FBI informant watched as Emmanuel Bailey assaulted an individual in the mid-1990s. Today, he is the Warden of the notoriously violent youth facility, RNDC, where gang members are said to enforce discipline at the behest of correction officers. [2]

Far from addressing the culture of brutality in its jails, DOC sends the message that the unlawful use of force is a good career move.

Inmates in DOC facilities have suffered brain injury, loss of eyesight, spinal fracture, punctured lungs, facial fracture, orbital fracture, skull laceration, and other serious injuries at the hands of correction officers.

These assaults have resulted in permanent physical and dignitary damage to Rikers inmates and lost respect for the City of New York. But they have also cost the City money. Between 2003 and 2011, brutality lawsuits settled by DOC cost the City well over $5,000,000.

 


[1] Nunez v. City of New York, No. 11-cv-5845 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)


[2] See Graham Rayman, Rikers Violence: Out of Control, Village Voice, May 9, 2012.