March 16, 2016
By Tara Jessup
New York, NY – According to New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, the city is facing a humanitarian crisis in our jails that is hurting both inmates and Correction Officers. Earlier this month, the Comptroller released a ClaimStat Alert, which highlighted the growing human and financial costs of this crisis.
The analysis examined notices of claims that individuals file with the Comptroller’s office before they sue the City, claims for personal injuries at correctional facilities have skyrocketed over the past 18 months. More than 2,800 claims were filed in Fiscal Year 2015 – that's 27 percent more than the year before, and 172 percent more than in 2009. The crisis is most acute on Rikers Island, which is home to eight out of the ten facilities with the highest number of claims.
The analysis also found that that the cost to settle these claims is rising quickly. Between Fiscal Year 2014 and 2015, settlements and judgments jumped by 66 percent, reaching $13.1 million. These rising claims and settlements come as the rate of violence at Rikers continues to soar, despite the fact that per-inmate spending has hit a record $112,000 per year.
Comptroller Stringer called on the Commissioner of the Department of Correction to examine claims and identify patterns that could help protect public safety and limit the City’s liability. The City must make the safety and security of inmates, visitors, and Correction Officers its top priority.