Features, Finance, Health and Safety, Law and Politics, Municipal Government, New York

NYC Jails Expensive and Dangerous

December 18, 2019

By Stephanie West

NEW YORK, NY — The cost of incarceration per person in New York City ballooned to an all-time high in FY 2019. At the same time violent incidents continue to increase in the city jails. 

According to a recent analysis of the Department of Correction,  the City now spends $337,524 to incarcerate one person for a full year, or $925 per day – an 85 percent increase since 2014.  While the Department of Correction’s budget declined for the first time in recent history, additional jail-related expenses continue to grow. Violent incidents continue to rise and inmates are more dangerous with many having serious mental problems.

“It’s time to fundamentally transform our criminal justice system – and the key to that is an efficient, thoughtful, and modern corrections system. Although our jail system has shrunk, this analysis shows that the system has not changed, like spending, violence, and the use of force continue to rise disproportionately. For long-term savings—and the long-term good of our City—we must start seeing better all-around outcomes as our jail population declines,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Our vastly reduced jail population should be yielding significant savings that we can reinvest in communities and strategies that keep our jail population as small as possible and turn the page from decades of mass incarceration. We have far more work to do.”

Violence in NYC jails keeps rising. Rikers is particularly a very dangerous place to work. In FY 2019, the rate of fight and assault infractions per incarcerated person rose by 12 percent, while the rate of assaults on staff rose by 37 percent. While the incarcerated population has decreased, those with a propensity towards violence has increased. From FY 2014 to FY 2019, the share of the jail population designated as a “security risk” increased from 8.2 percent to 16.4 percent.  The population with a mental health diagnosis grew from 38 percent to 45 percent.

December 18, 2019

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