If the politicians won’t institute reform in New York, U.S, Attorney Preet Bharara seems on the ready to force their hand. His latest victory: Major changes, including the appointment of a federal monitor, at New York City’s notorious jail on Rikers Island.
In a deal with City Hall that grew out of a Legal Aid Society-backed lawsuit by inmates who said they were physically abused, the monitor will oversee the jail reorganization.
“I have repeatedly made clear our unwavering commitment to enduring and enforceable reform at Rikers Island. Today, we have reached a groundbreaking agreement in principle with City officials, subject to ultimate approval by the Court,” Bharara said in a statement.
“This comprehensive framework requires the City to implement sweeping operational changes to fix a broken system and dismantle a decades-long culture of violence. Its ongoing implementation will be overseen by the Court and an independent federal monitor.
“Federal prosecutors will remain vigilant to ensure that the Constitution protects each and every person within the walls of Rikers Island.”
RELATED: The suicide of inmate Kalief Browder.
Bharara’s latest victory comes as he continues to wage a campaign against corrupt politicians, a campaign that has seen the conviction of former state Senate Democratic leader Malcolm Smith for trying to bribe his way into the most recent mayoral race.
Bharara also secured corruption indictments earlier this year against former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and the Republican majority leader, Dean Skelos of Long Island. Both men were the big power brokers in Albany and both, while still sitting legislators, were stripped of their leadership roles.
RELATED: Mayor de Blasio’s Rikers reform efforts.
The reforms at Rikers, which houses nearly 10,000 prisoners, grow out of the inmates class action suit, Nunez vs. the City of New York, which the Justice Department also backed.
The deal, Reuters reports , demands:
- The city install 7,800 surveillance cameras throughout Rikers.
- A pilot program to have some guards wear body cameras.
- An early warning system to identify guards who may warrant corrective actions.
- A computerized system to track use-of-force incidents.
- Improved training, recruitment and promotion practices.
- Changes to how teenage inmates are treated.
"Today's agreement represents another strong step toward our goal of reversing the decades of abuse on Rikers and building a culture of safety for officers and inmates alike," de Blasio said in a statement.
Compliance with the agreement will be overseen by a monitor, Steve Martin, a corrections expert who has served as a consultant for the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
The deal followed other actions taken by Bharara's office targeting problems at Rikers. Bharara earlier this month announced charges against three guards in connection with a 2012 assault that led to an inmate's death.