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Jails Commissioner Ponte Asks For Another $28 Million For Reforms

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte told lawmakers Tuesday that an additional $28 million allocated to the fiscal year 2016 budget will help fund reforms at the troubled agency.

Ponte said Tuesday at a City Council budget hearing that he hopes to hire 2,000 more correction officers in the next year as part of the $1.2 billion budget for his department.

He said the application investigation unit to screen problematic hires has been expanded, and a recruitment team is being created.

The move came in part because of a city investigation last year that found Rikers Island guards were hired despite gang ties and psychological problems.

The probe found systemic problems with the Department of Correction hiring system, including no recruiting strategy for the past six years, that allowed an alarmingly high number of hires who had arrest records, gang ties or other red flags that are markers for corruption.

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Ponte again told lawmakers that while he has made some progress in the past year, much more work is needed to reform the jails.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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