NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Federal prosecutors sued New York City on Thursday to speed the pace of reforms to address what a Justice Department investigation found was a “deep-seated culture of violence” against young inmates at the Rikers Island jail complex.
The move comes just a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the 10-jail lockup to announce the end of solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates, a policy change initiated after the 2 1/2-year federal probe released in August.
“By ending the use of punitive segregation for adolescents, we are shifting away from a jail system that punishes its youngest inmates, to one that is focused on rehabilitation with the goal of helping put these young New Yorkers on the path to better outcomes,” de Blasio said Wednesday.
But the end of solitary was just one of 73 recommendations made by federal prosecutors to curb the violence, improve investigations, strengthen accountability and reduce the use of solitary confinement for inmates who break jailhouse rules.
In court papers, Attorney General Eric Holder and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote that despite four months of negotiations with the city, federal prosecutors “have been unable to reach agreement as to lasting, verifiable, and enforceable reforms.”
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, Bharara said Thursdsay he put the city on notice “that we stood ready to take legal action to compel long-overdue reforms at Rikers, if that became necessary, to get to the finish line. That time has now arrived.”