Spending, violence rises in NY jails despite population decline

The rate of detainee assaults on staff has increased by 258 percent in the past decade

By CorrectionsOne Staff

NEW YORK  — Spending and violence continues to rise in New York jails despite a decreasing jail population, The New York Post reports.

The city’s average daily jail population for the fiscal year, ending June 30, 2018, fell to 8,896. It’s lowest in 37 years. However, the city’s annual cost per inmate increased to $302,296, up from $25,986 the previous year. 

There are 10,653 uniformed officers, allowing 1.2 officers per detainee, a report shows. A decade ago, there were 9,149 officers overseeing 13,850 inmates, or .66 officers per detainee.

“The [Department of Correction] is spending more money with more staff to guard fewer people — yet rates of violence and assault continue to rise, which is troubling both for our detained population and for correction officers,” Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a statement. “We have to do better, and this analysis sheds a light on just how much work remains ahead of us.”

While the number of DOC officers dropped in the past year, officers exceed the total number of prisoners for the third straight year. 

According to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, the inmate population of Rikers Island has dropped below 8,000 for the first time in nearly 40 years. However, despite the smaller jail population, the rate of detainee assaults on staff has increased by 258 percent in the past decade. Fights and assaults among prisoners has tripled.

“Both the crime rate and our inmate population are at historic lows and the city’s investments in jail reform are paying off,” DOC Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Peter Thorne said. “We are now managing a more challenging population with a greater density of serious top charges, yet slashings and stabbings have decreased by 42 percent and fights are down 4 percent. We’ll continue to implement key reforms to drive incidents down further.”

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