The rate of fight and assault infractions in New York City jails skyrocketed 25 percent in Fiscal Year 2016, even as per-inmate spending grew to $132,019 and the average daily number of inmates fell to a 33-year low of 9,790, according to a new analysis released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.
During the past Fiscal Year, the Department of Correction’s budget grew by $140 million, an increase of 12 percent. Focusing more resources on fewer inmates, however, did little to stem violence in city jails.
Despite 12 percent budget growth over the past year, an expansion of staffing levels and new initiatives to improve security and expand programs, violence in New York City jails continued to balloon in Fiscal Year 2016. In response to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation and the Nunez legal settlement in 2015, the Department of Correction has devised a plan to reduce violence, including new housing strategies, additional security cameras and monitoring and most recently the elimination of solitary confinement for persons age 21 and younger.
In Fiscal Year 2016, the rate of fight or assault infractions reached 1,148 per 1,000 average daily population—25 percent higher than the previous year and nearly 50 percent higher than in 2014.
DEFENDER ORGANIZATIONS, ELECTED OFFICIALS CALL ON CUOMO TO SIGN GRAVITY KNIVES REFORM LEGISLATION
The Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Defender Services joined with other defender organizations, community advocates, stakeholders and elected officials this week calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would treat folding knives as work tools, not weapons. The bill (S6483A/A9042A) is sponsored by Diane Savino in the New York State Senate and Dan Quart in the Assembly.
Every year, the NYPD arrests thousands of construction workers, electricians, custodians, stagehands, handymen and chefs for possessing common folding knives that are sold at major retailers across the city and state. Close to 90 percent of those arrested are Black or Latino. The Legislature exempted folding knives from prosecution under the gravity knife statute.
The bill was passed by the state Senate and Assembly in June and will soon be sent to the governor’s office for consideration.
The Legal Aid Society and BDS have worked closely with other local organizations on this issue, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, JustLeadership USA, the Urban Justice Center and the Katal Center.
NATIONAL DANCE INSTITUTE PERFORMS AT MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Midtown got a touch of uptown as dancers from the Harlem-based National Dance Institute made their way along the parade route.
NDI was one of the few hand-picked performing groups appearing in the parade that celebrated its 90th anniversary this Thanksgiving. The group performed a dance routine featuring jazz and hip-hop.
This isn’t the NDI’s first trip to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The organization was also featured during the 2007 event.
Founded in 1976 by legendary New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise, NDI reaches more than 6,000 public school children per week throughout the city and reaches thousands more through 12 NDI-associate programs across the country. The organization has been at its Harlem headquarters on 147th Street since 2011.
–Compiled by Cyril Josh Barker