Jail assaults jump, Rikers staffing cut blamed
City streets are not the only places in New York erupting in violence.
On Rikers Island there have been 40 slashings and stabbings in just the first half of 2012, jail sources said. At that rate, the number would more than double the 35 reported in all of last year.
Violent inmate attacks on officers are also on track to far outpace last year’s total, records show.
Jail insiders blame a nearly 25% staffing reduction in the now 30-person gang unit, as well as strict new rules that ban overtime.
“That’s what’s hurting us,” a jail source said. “We need those areas filled.”
The Correction Department, meanwhile, cites increased vigilance in reporting attacks following a recent scandal where investigators discovered unreported incidents in which jail officers used force against inmates.
Jail officials also blamed the rise in bloody attacks behind bars on the spike in New York City’s crime. Serious crime during the first six months of the year — including rape, robbery, felony assaults and murder — was up about 4% citywide. A recent spate of violence saw 77 people shot in a single week.
“The same individuals who are violent in the street and then remanded to jail, bring these very tendencies with them when they are arrested and taken into custody,” Commissioner Dora Schriro said. “We are taking every measure permitted by law to avert injuries to others.”
That was little solace for inmate Corey Parron, who was slashed across the face by two suspected Bloods members — Jorod Skinner and Donald White — on July 9, records show. Parron and his attackers were housed in the department’s special “restraint unit,” where dangerous inmates are escorted everywhere by officers and repeatedly searched.
As of Saturday, Parron’s alleged attackers hadn’t been criminally charged, as short-staffed department investigators struggle to keep up with the backlog of similar cases, sources said.
“It’s outrageous,” a jail insider said.
The Correction Department wouldn’t discuss the backlog.
There have been 84 serious assaults by inmates on officers this year — on pace to eclipse 140 such attacks last year. The increase comes as jail officials examine ways to curb the violence.
Jail honchos recently changed the way they classify inmates by housing the most dangers ones in the same facilities, away from the general population, authorities said. Department bigwigs have also expanded the K-9 unit, increased jail searches and installed more video cameras.
And they’ve purchased six state-of-the art full-body scanning machines in an effort to find new, hard-to-detect titanium blades that are being smuggled inside.