Jail Promises

The Story

Mayor de Blasio has committed himself to criminal-justice reform, including reducing arrests for “minor” crimes and closing the jails on Rikers Island, but the real world often intrudes on his vision. Earlier this year, the city rolled back a plan to separate “young adults” (between 19 and 21) from the mature prison population. Officials did not explain their reason for the change, but it appears that concentrating younger, more volatile inmates together may lead to more violence.

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Violence: Though the inmate population is near modern lows, violence in jails has increased sharply. Read more.

  2. Too much: Correction officers are quitting or otherwise leaving their jobs at more than double the rate prior to de Blasio’s mayoralty. Read more.

  3. Youth: An initiative to ban solitary confinement for young offenders was never put into practice; instead, difficult inmates were sent upstate, where the policy is still permitted. Read more.

“A lot of the newer people when they get here, when they realize what they signed up for—they quickly leave.”

Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

Why the Jails Didn’t Explode By Frank Straub Paul E. O’Connell (Spring 1999)

“How inspired management brought New York City’s jails back from the brink of anarchy to order and safety.”

For Further Reading

Are Mayor de Blasio’s corrections policies making New York City jails less safe?

According to Rafael Mangual: “In 1998, when more than 17,500 prisoners were packed into New York City jails on any given day, inmates committed 6,458 violent assaults. By 2017, the average daily inmate population had dropped to just 9,500—yet the behind-bars violent-assault total nearly doubled, to 12,650.”

And in other news...

“New York City has increased spending on housing homeless people in shelters in recent years, but the population continues to hover at more than 60,000 despite efforts to move many into permanent housing, a new city report shows.”