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New York - Jail Monitor: NYC Guards Too Often Striking Inmates' Heads

Published on: October 31, 2016 11:30 PM
By: AP
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FILE - Aida Garcia,19, stands with a sign during a rally regarding the NYC Board of Correction hearing on the Department of Correction (DOC) proposal to create enhanced supervision housing units (ESHU) in the city jails, on the steps of City Hall in New York December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton FILE - Aida Garcia,19, stands with a sign during a rally regarding the NYC Board of Correction hearing on the Department of Correction (DOC) proposal to create enhanced supervision housing units (ESHU) in the city jails, on the steps of City Hall in New York December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

New York -  The court-appointed monitor overseeing New York City’s jails is concerned that guards are striking too many inmates in the head.

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Steve Martin’s second report since being appointed a year ago was filed in Manhattan federal court Monday.

Martin reviewed 1,700 records documenting uses of force at Rikers Island between March 1 and July 31 of this year.

He found about 235 incidents that involved a blow to an inmate’s head and another 300 that involved an inmate in restraints.

Blows to the head are supposed to be used only as a last resort because they can be fatal.

Martin found guards used force about a quarter of the time after inmates refused to follow a direct order.

Martin says jail violence remains high. He says reform efforts will take hold in time.



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Read Comments (6)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Nov 01, 2016 at 12:33 AM Anonymous Says:

Too few people look out for the basic human rights of prisoners.

2

 Nov 01, 2016 at 08:08 AM SandmanNY Says:

The prison system is America's latest version of slave labor. Read the wording of the 13th Amendment. It's getting bigger and it's become a privatized industry.

3

 Nov 01, 2016 at 10:07 AM yonasonw Says:

"...Blows to the head are supposed to be used only as a last resort because they can be fatal..."

True as far as it goes...but as one who reviews correctional use of force incident videos weekly, and who develops and writes use of force protocols, I know that this fails to address increasingly common and troubling gang related disturbances in today's prisons, at least with respect to younger inmates.

Group disturbances really are increasingly common. In many jurisdictions, policies prohibiting OC Spray on young inmates, due to alleged health risks, and prohibitions against the use of batons, leave correction officers with no option to quell a group disturbance other than by intervening physically.

What ensues in these situations is in reality a fight - with the officers taking on the inmates on both sides...while trying to subdue the inmates and, at the same time protecting, both injured inmates and themselves.

Such incidents can run on for a full minute or more; for those officers in the mix, deliberative premeditation isn't remotely relevant. Head strikes indeed may occur in incidents like this, as do injuries, to inmates and to officers.

4

 Nov 01, 2016 at 10:56 AM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #2  
SandmanNY Says:

The prison system is America's latest version of slave labor. Read the wording of the 13th Amendment. It's getting bigger and it's become a privatized industry.

Don't boo...vote...and remember your essentially correct sentiment the next time your "law and order" legislative representatives propose or support legislation that:

Strips correctional programing budgets;
Removes educational programs from prisons;
Maintains occupational bars to released felons;
Prevents former felons from voting;
Prevents inmates from engaging in real world vocational training;
Disallows paying inmates real wages for their labor;
Increases prison sentences;
Tries juveniles in adult courts;
Vetoes studies for European style non-custody based institutions.

I am a correctional management professional...but we operate at the whim of legislators, and a willing riled up electorate, who forever beat the law and order drum, and who have created much of the problem you have so correctly identified.

5

 Nov 01, 2016 at 02:31 PM mewhoze Says:

the system is very broken. needs a complete overhaul. some facilities are hot as ovens in the summer. having people living under those conditions should be against the law!

6

 Nov 01, 2016 at 05:11 PM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #5  
mewhoze Says:

the system is very broken. needs a complete overhaul. some facilities are hot as ovens in the summer. having people living under those conditions should be against the law!

True...well said.

Yet legislators have been known to balk at the expense air conditioning new facilities, claiming it is "coddling" inmates.

In fact, not only is it simply humane to a/c prisons...it is a security issue when a prison is not air conditioned. In my jurisdiction we have a mix...but you will not find a correctional professional who disagrees with you.

7

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