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Rikers Island Federal Monitor Finds 'Conditions Have Progressively And Substantially Worsened'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The latest assessment from the federal monitor tasked with overseeing Rikers Island over the last six years finds "conditions have progressively and substantially worsened."

In recent months, state and local leaders have attempted to alleviate conditions at the city's jail complex.

Despite upgrades to the facilities, the release of some detainees and transfer of others, the monitor highlighted the root causes of the problems have yet to be addressed.

Web Extra: Read The Report (.pdf)

The report found a lack of competency and a void in leadership resulted in more than 2,000 assaults on staff, a record number of detainee suicides and fights that are on pace to top past years.

Overhauling years of mismanagement, the monitor said, will require changing the internal culture, improving security practices and increasing accountability in response to the violence.

Meanwhile, widespread staff shortages, magnified by the vaccine mandate, have correction officers working 12 hour shifts, as 365 uniformed members are at risk of going on leave without pay for not complying.

"This report supports what we continue to hear from incarcerated clients every day: That correction officers resort to abuse and brutality as a matter of course, rendering even short stays in custody both treacherous and traumatic," said Mary Lynne Werlwas, director of the prisoners' rights project at The Legal Aid Society. "As the report shows, the facilities are more dangerous than they were when the federal court entered relief. The city has not been able to get staff back to work, nor effectively deploy staff who are at work, to stabilize the acute crisis. This is unacceptable and unconstitutional."

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