New York City, U.S. agree to reforms for Rikers jail complex

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City has agreed to carry out reforms at its Rikers Island jail complex to resolve US Justice Department claims that guards regularly used unnecessary force against inmates, US officials said yesterday. In a letter filed in federal court in New York, Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office said the deal included appointing a federal monitor to oversee the reforms at Rikers, one of the largest jail complexes in the country.

“This comprehensive framework requires the city to implement sweeping operational changes to fix a broken system and dismantle a decades-long culture of violence,” Bharara said in a statement.

Rikers, which houses around 9,800 prisoners, has come under scrutiny for a culture of violence that included officer attacks on prisoners and several inmate deaths.

Under the agreement, the city will install 7,800 surveillance cameras throughout Rikers and, as part of pilot programme, have some guards wear body cameras.

The city will also develop an early warning system to identify guards who may warrant corrective actions and a computerized system to track use-of-force incidents.

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