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Prison News | New York

Recent events, organized by category (below) or region/state (right), concerning the corrections industry in New York. Comments, suggestions and contributions (below) appreciated.

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Education & Rehabilitation

Executions, Death Row & the Death Penalty

No recent news for New York in this category.

Gangs in Prison

Health & Medical Treatment


Prison Classification, Placement, & Release

  • NYC jail boss questioned at oversight hearing
    NEW YORK (AP) — The head of the city's troubled jail system was barraged with questions from lawmakers Wednesday about what he is doing to improve conditions for 16- and 17-year-old Rikers Island inmates following a scathing federal review that found that guards often use excessive force against them....[more]

  • Reform of harsh sentences in drug cases is both a just and practical step forward
    Few would argue at this point that the nation’s decades-old war on drugs has been anything but a wretched failure. It has cost uncounted millions of dollars, sent tens of thousands of people to prison (disproportionately African-American) and helped give this country the world’s largest incarceration rate – and all without putting a dent in drug use....[more]

  • Improving private prisons through the tax code
    On Tax Day, it’s appropriate to note this new student note in the NYU Law Review: We Tried to Make Them Offer Rehab, but They Said, “No, No, No!”: Incentivizing Private Prison Reform Through the Private Prisoner Rehabilitation Credit, by Cassandre Monique Davilmar. (Apparently the title is an Amy Winehouse reference.) Here’s the abstract:

    Mass incarceration in the United States has led many state governments to hand over the management and construction of prisons to private corporations, ...[more]


  • De Blasio Setting Up a Test: Prison Reformer vs. Rikers Island
    Joseph Ponte, New York’s newly appointed correction commissioner, and his wife were visiting the city two weeks ago, and while she went apartment hunting, he had a few hours free. He dropped by Rikers Island to have a look at the jail block where a mentally ill inmate died this year, left unattended in a stiflingly hot cell....[more]

  • Sentencing Reform Starts to Pay Off
    In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the vast disparity in the way the federal courts punish crack versus powder cocaine offenses. Instead of treating 100 grams of cocaine the same as 1 gram of crack for ......[more]

  • NY to close 4 upstate prisons as inmate population shrinks; 3 medium security, 1 minimum
    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - State corrections officials say they plan to close four more prisons in response the shrinking number of drug offenders behind bars....[more]

  • At Trial, Pataki Says Sex Offender Trailed Family
    Former Gov. George E. Pataki testified in a Manhattan civil trial on Tuesday that among the reasons he pushed to keep convicted sexual offenders confined to psychiatric hospitals after they had completed their prison sentences was an ......[more]

Prison Conditions & Corruption

  • New York City settles inmate death lawsuits for $5.3M
    NEW YORK - New York City has agreed to pay $5.3 million to the families of two inmates who died at its troubled Rikers Island jail complex, a city official said on Tuesday....[more]

  • ? Rikers Is Reforming Solitary Confinement—With More Solitary Confinement? How did Enhanced Supervision Housing units become one of the mayor’s “solutions”?
    ? In July, David* was told he was being moved to a new unit. He was taken from a general-population unit on Rikers to one of the recently opened Enhanced Supervision Housing units (ESHU) at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center. The unit was a stark difference from general population: In ESHU you get seven hours out-of-cell time a day; in general population, you’re entitled to 14 hours minimum out-of-cell time, as mandated by the Board of Correction’s standards....[more]

  • A Play That Confronts the Horror of Solitary Confinement
    On a recent Thursday evening, a small crowd gathered in a sweaty upstairs room in a Lutheran church in Bed Stuy for “Mariposa and the Saint,” a short play composed entirely from the text of letters written by a woman named Sara (Mariposa) Fonseca while she was serving a fifteen-month sentence in solitary confinement. The letters were written to an artist and activist named Julia Steele Allen, who also, by Fonseca’s request, plays Mariposa in the production. ...[more]

  • Americans protest human rights violations in US prisons
    A group of protesters have condemned human rights violations and illegal activities that frequently take place in prisons across the United States.

    The protesters gathered near the Rikers facility in New York City on Saturday and called for reform....[more]


  • The Shake-Up at Rikers Island
    Violence and corruption became entrenched at New York City’s Rikers Island jail because officers who ignored or even condoned that culture were moved steadily up the ladder into management....[more]

  • $2.25 Million Settlement for Family of Rikers Inmate Who Died in Hot Cell
    The family of a homeless veteran who died this year in a searing hot cell at the Rikers Island jail complex will receive $2.25 million from the City of New York in a settlement the comptroller’s office announced on Friday....[more]

  • New York sued over so-called owed time in solitary
    A class action lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court says inmates are unduly placed in 23-hour confinement for breaking jailhouse rules in previous detentions, sometimes years earlier. For example, if an inmate is sentenced to a month in solitary confinement but is released or transferred before completing it, he can be forced to serve the remaining time during his next incarceration....[more]

  • 3 New York City Correction Officials to Step Down Amid Scrutiny of Rikers
    In a major shake-up at the New York City Correction Department, three high-ranking officials, including the top uniformed officer, are stepping down amid mounting criticism over the handling of violence and corruption at Rikers Island....[more]

  • Kids Shouldn't Be at Rikers, Period
    New York State's top corrections official said this week that he supports moving all adolescent inmates off Rikers Island. His statement raises hopes for an end to what the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a scathing recent report, called a "deep-seated culture of violence" against youth in the United States' second-largest jail, where the vast majority of inmates are adults....[more]

  • Head of Jails Is Criticized On Violence At Rikers
    New York City lawmakers sharply criticized the city’s correction commissioner on Wednesday, raising pointed questions about his ability to curb pervasive violence against inmates at Rikers Island....[more]

  • NYC administrative law judge recommends 6 jail guards be fired in brutal 2012 inmate beating
    NEW YORK – An administrative law judge on Monday recommended that six New York City jail guards be fired for the brutal 2012 beating of a handcuffed Rikers Island inmate in a now-shuttered solitary confinement dorm for mentally ill prisoners.

    The beating left 27-year-old Robert Hinton with a broken nose, fractured back and a bloodied, badly swollen face....[more]


  • Solitary Confinement to End for Youngest at Rikers Island
    Although experts have spoken for years about the devastating effects of solitary confinement on the mental health of adolescent prisoners, such seclusion has long been the primary form of punishment at the Rikers Island jail complex, where inmates as young as 16 can spend days, weeks and sometimes months locked in a cell for over 23 hours a day....[more]

  • Prosecutor Warns That Rikers Island Problems May Prompt U.S. Lawsuit
    As alarm mounted this year over conditions at the Rikers Island jail complex, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has largely managed to escape scrutiny, because the problems were rooted in the previous mayoralty....[more]

  • Inmate’s Death in Overheated Rikers Cell Is Ruled Accidental
    The death of a mentally ill veteran in an overheated cell at Rikers Island this year was accidental, the New York City medical examiner’s office ruled on Friday in a case that drew scrutiny to abusive conditions at the jail complex....[more]

  • Family of Rikers Inmate Sues New York City Over His Death
    The night Bradley Ballard died, he lay naked on the floor of his cell in a mental health observation unit at Rikers Island, weak and covered with feces. He had not been given medication for his schizophrenia and diabetes. And, unbeknown to guards, he had tied a rubber band around his genitals, causing them to become badly infected, New York City investigators later concluded....[more]

  • New York’s Top Jail Investigator Resigns After Inquiry on Rikers Brutality
    The top investigator at the New York Correction Department resigned on Friday under pressure from city leaders who are facing a federal mandate to regain control of the Rikers Island jail complex, where widespread brutality and corruption by guards routinely go unpunished....[more]

  • Violence on inmates by Rikers Guards Grew Under Bloomberg
    The portrait that emerged from the report on Rikers Island by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan last week was of a place with almost medieval levels of violence, meted out with startling ferocity by guards and their superiors....[more]

  • Feds say NYC jails extremely violent, unsafe for teenage inmates and that reforms are needed
    NEW YORK, N.Y. - New York City's juvenile jails are extremely violent and unsafe, the result of a deeply ingrained culture of violence in which guards routinely violate constitutional rights of teenage inmates and subject them to "rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force," the federal government said in a scathing report released Monday....[more]

  • Hot Prisons Could Be Deadly For U.S. Inmates, Advocates Warn
    Earlier this year, a prisoner with severe mental illness died in an overheated cell at Rikers Island, the biggest jail in New York City. The exact cause of Jerome Murdough's death is still under investigation, but the temperature in the cell when he was found was at least 100 degrees. His death called renewed attention to a long-standing problem: maintaining reasonable temperatures in jails and prisons....[more]

  • New York City Reviewing Injuries Dealt by Rikers Correction Officers
    The city’s Department of Investigation has begun a review of scores of cases of serious injuries suffered by inmates at Rikers Island during assaults by correction officers last year....[more]

  • New York City settles inmate death lawsuit for $2.75 million
    (Reuters) - New York City has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a jail inmate who claimed guards beat him to death.

    A spokesman for the city's Law Department on Monday confirmed the settlement with the estate of Ronald Spear, 52, who died in December 2012 at the city's Rikers Island jail....[more]


  • In a Cellblock on Rikers Island: A Portrait of Abuse
    The failure of the New York City Correction Department to train, control and discipline its personnel is appalling. Equally unacceptable is the public silence of the Board of Correction, the official civilian oversight agency for the city’s jails....[more]

  • Report exposes culture of beatings at New York prison
    NEW YORK: Mentally ill inmates suffer overwhelmingly from pervasive brutality at America's second biggest jail, where guards beat up prisoners routinely, The New York Times reported on Monday....[more]

  • Investigation Targets Rikers Island Guards -- Authorities Raid a Detention Center as Part of a Probe Into Violence, Illegal Behavior at Prison
    New York City authorities raided a detention center on Rikers Island on Monday as part of a continuing investigation into violence and illegal behavior at the prison, officials said.

    The action came as part of a Department of Investigation probe that has so far led to more than 12 Department of Correction officers and their superiors being turned over to city prosecutors, officials said. Those referrals all came before Monday....[more]


  • Ex-Rikers boss cleared of inmate assault - Former Assistant Deputy Warden Edwin Diaz was found not guilty of beating up an inmate in 2008 and then falsifying records about the incident
    A retired Rikers Island supervisor accused of covering up his attack on an inmate after the convicted murderer struck a fellow Corrections officer was cleared of all charges....[more]

  • EXCLUSIVE: Judge slams jail officials for failing to provide proper cooling for overheating Rikers Island cells
    Federal Judge Harold Baer ripped city Correctional Department authorities for failing to provide inmates with cooling in their jail cells on hot days. Rikers Island faces controversy for the death of an inmate who was found in a 101-degree cell in February. In 2004, the judge ordered the jail to set up proper ventilation and cooling....[more]

  • Columbia Prison Divest delivers second letter to Bollinger during its first awareness week
    Columbia Prison Divest is wrapping up a week of events called People, Prisons & Profit, which aimed to increase awareness for its divestment movement on campus.

    On Wednesday, the group sent a letter to University President Lee Bollinger asking for a meeting within two weeks to discuss the benefits of divestment from the private prison industry....[more]


  • Solitary confinement’s mockery of human rights
    New York state recently announced reforms to the practice of solitary confinement in its jails and prisons. The changes include a ban on this extreme punishment for adolescents, pregnant women and the developmentally disabled....[more]

  • NYC jail guard charged in death of inmate who ate disinfectant
    (Reuters) - A former senior guard at New York City's main jail complex was arrested on Monday on a federal charge that he deprived a mentally ill inmate of medical aid after he swallowed a corrosive disinfectant....[more]

  • NYC jail guard's claim she had sex with inmates, co-workers triggers federal investigation
    NEW YORK – Jail guard Nancy Gonzalez gained notoriety by conceiving a baby behind bars with a cop killer. But her story of sexual misconduct at a federal lockup in Brooklyn doesn't end there....[more]

  • A Tie to Mental Illness in the Violence Behind Bars - The number of violent episodes reported at the Clements Unit has risen.
    AMARILLO — The most violent prisons in the Texas state system share a common factor: they house a high proportion of mentally ill inmates....[more]

  • A Tie to Mental Illness in the Violence Behind Bars - The number of violent episodes reported at the Clements Unit has risen.
    AMARILLO — The most violent prisons in the Texas state system share a common factor: they house a high proportion of mentally ill inmates....[more]

Prison Life & Culture

Riots, Lockdowns & Escapes

  • Attorney appeals to keep Attica prison riot volumes sealed
    Attorneys for the widow of the state police official who ordered the storming of Attica prison on Sept. 13, 1971, have used the words of the judge responsible for sealing the second and third volumes of the 1975 report on the riot to try to block their publication....[more]

  • Judge Hears Opinions on Attica Report Unsealing
    The widow of the state police captain who gave the command to retake the Attica prison from rioting inmates in 1971 says unsealing investigative documents now would be unfair, but others say it's time, for the sake of history, to let the public see them....[more]

  • Members of Pussy Riot Visit Residents at Halfway House
    Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, founding members of the Russian activist group Pussy Riot, spent the last morning of their last day in New York at a halfway house in West Harlem, hearing about post-prison life from women living there. ...[more]

  • Man jailed for 1992 Long Island kidnapping found dead in cell
    The man who kidnapped Katie Beers was found dead in his cell at Sing Sing Prison. 64-year-old John Esposito was found shortly after a parole hearing Wednesday. Authorities say he died from natural causes. Esposito was convicted in the 1992 abduction of Beers......[more]

  • When Prisoners Protest
    THERE aren't many protests in prison. In a world where authorities exercise absolute power and demand abject obedience, prisoners are almost always going to be on the losing side, and they know it....[more]

  • Hunger Strike by California Inmates, Already Large, Is Expected to Be a Long One
    LOS ANGELES -- Nearly 29,000 inmates in California state prisons refused meals for the third day Wednesday during a protest of prison conditions and rules. The protest extended to two-thirds of the 33 prisons across the state and all 4 ......[more]

Suicides in Prison

Workplace & Industry News, and Science & Tech News

  • Assaults on prison guards in N.Y. at all-time high, union complains
    Assaults on correction officers at New York State prisons are on the increase.

    The union representing the officers says violence against them is at an all-time high.

    State officials who oversee New York’s 54 prisons and their 53,611 inmates do not put it in such dramatic terms. They say there has been an “uptick” in assaults....[more]


  • Pot-selling police officer gets 18 months in jail
    As a Buffalo police officer, James Hamilton Sr. was caught in November selling a quarter-pound of his homegrown marijuana to an informant. He pleaded guilty three months later in a deal that would give him somewhere between 18 and 24 months behind bars....[more]

  • Prison Officers Need Help, but They Won’t Ask for It
    Norman Seabrook, president of the New York City Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association, is recounting a phone call he received two weeks ago from a distraught woman named Melanie. After almost 20 years working under the relentless stress of a New York City jail, Melanie’s corrections officer girlfriend had had enough....[more]

  • NYSCOPBA: Anything But a Holiday Weekend at Five Points Correctional Facility
    ROMULUS, N.Y., Sept. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While many New Yorkers enjoyed barbequing and other holiday activities with family and friends this past Saturday, Correction Officers at Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, NY, had their hands full responding to a myriad of inmate fights and staff assaults, which sent three Officers and one Sergeant to the hospital....[more]

  • Inmate Attack Leaves Attica Correction Officer Hospitalized
    ATTICA, N.Y., Aug. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One Correction Officer remains hospitalized after suffering multiple fractures and a concussion, and two others were treated for injuries at area hospitals, following a violent inmate attack yesterday at Attica Correctional Facility....[more]

  • Rikers warden resigns
    A veteran Rikers Island warden resigned yesterday as the Department of Investigations probes allegations of brutality against guards at the prison, Department of Corrections sources told the Post....[more]


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