NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York City’s jail commissioner has detailed proposed reforms to the problem-plagued Rikers Island jail complex in the wake of increased scrutiny and a scathing federal review.
Commissioner Joseph Ponte told oversight board members Tuesday the private consulting firm McKinsey & Company will review the department’s practices to provide “a new set of eyes.”
He also explained plans to eliminate a backlog of about 1,000 inmates who owe time in solitary confinement and introduce new punishments that don’t involve 23-hour lock in.
He said he’d eventually eliminate punitive confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates.
Ponte’s proposed reforms come just a month after the U.S. attorney found widespread violence in the facilities that hold adolescent inmates at Rikers. Government lawyers gave officials 49 days to put forth reforms.
The report, the result of a 2 and 1/2-year Justice Department investigation into violence at three Rikers Island juvenile jail facilities, recommended major reforms to almost every aspect of how young offenders are treated.
“As our investigation has shown, for adolescents, Rikers Island is a broken institution,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “It is a place where brute force is the first impulse rather than the last resort; where verbal insults are repaid with physical injuries; where beatings are routine while accountability is rare; and where a culture of violence endures even while a code of silence prevails.”
“The extremely high rates of violence and excessive use of solitary confinement for adolescent males uncovered by this investigation are inappropriate and unacceptable,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
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