Saturday, December 20, 2014

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The Call Blog: City Looks To Curb Violence In Jails, Support Mentally Ill Inmates

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A task force is a start. In this instance, it's the finish that matters. The rise in the number of inmates with a mental illness and the rise in the number of violent attacks in the jail system is one in the same. We are now seeing that violence escalate on the streets too. For proof, look no further than Daniel St. Hubert.

The Department of Correction reports 40% of New York City's inmate population has a diagnosed mental illness, an increase from 24% in 2007. The troubling rise in the number of mentally ill prisoners coincides with a rising level of violence. DOC statistics found between 2010 and 2013, use-of-force incidents increased 59%, from 1,871 to 2,977. In addition, slashing and stabbing incidents doubled from 34 to 58, and assaults on staff rose from 500 to 646.

So what should be done about it? At a City Council hearing yesterday, new Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte said combating violence "will not be quick, and will not be easy." Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed a task force to rethink how the criminal justice system treats the mentally ill. Some suggestions include more training for officers, new facilities, more security staff, and bail reform.

Are you concerned with the spike in violence in the New York City jail system? If you've spent time on Rikers Island, how bad is it? What more should be done to support mentally ill inmates? Do you agree with the correction officer union president who said prisoners with mental illnesses shouldn't be housed on Rikers at all?

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Many of the personnel in ny city and state are not prepared to deal with the mental health issues they will see from inmates on a daily basis. The need more nurses nurses practitioners and doctors to train all staff of these conditions meds side effects and behavior expectations


I think the system is making mental illnesses an excuse for society. I have an 11 yr old who has been diagnosed with two mental illnesses -mood disorder and ADHD- which I, as his mother know he does not have. He knows exactly how to manipulate and how to do it because the system itself gives him the excuses of misbehaving as a result of supposedly a diagnosis. I am afraid that Dr's just diagnose and prescribe anything just to get it over with. I have been dealing with his behavior since he was 8 and he is just gotten worst because he has an excuse. After a 15 minute interview at the age of 8 he was prescribed Abilify for a mood disorder he does not have. The system is teaching him that it is okay to act up and oppose to rules due to his diagnosis. I am afraid that when he becomes older he will do anything because he will get away with it do to his diagnoses. And then I won't be able to protect him anymore. Where will he end up? Most likely in jail.


I am a retired Corrections officer. I started in the 80's. During that period of time; the mentally ill were appropriately housed. Inmates were assessed; placed in either general population, Rikers Island hospital, Bellevue, or one of the other city hospitals with staff trained to work with the mentally ill.

The NYC DOC should implement mental health training to accompany the training received at the academy. I think that the Office of Health and Mental Health should be invited to present training on working with the mental illness along with how to recognize mental illness.

During my tenure I recall the Rikers Island medical team assessing each individual. Medications such as Hadol and Cogentin was given for inmates diagnosed with schizophrenia etc. Inmates who were "coming down" from a heroin (as it was once referred to) were assessed and immediately given medication or methadone treatment.

Policy has really changed at Rikers.

Tami the Broker (again) Bed Stuy Brooklyn.

I am a correction officer at rikers island and I feel they do not belong in jail, they are a threat to us officers, mental staff as well as themselves. Some of the inmates that are also being place in mental areas are gang bangers that cut up to try and get lighter sentencing for crimes they committed. The real mental patients need to be in mental institutions. We are being put in more danger.



I'm tired of law abiding citizens being murdered by the mentally ill, it happens every month. Reboot the asylums NOW!

Glen Oaks, Queens

Instead of closing it why not come up with a better system. My not have different sections. That way a murder will be next to a murder and a person simply waiting for trial will be next to another person simply waiting for a trial. Problem solved? Why are we trying to make a JAIL more appealing? Or comfortable?... Lets not forget about our schools! Put more money into our schools to keep our children out of jail!



I think the problems derive from prison personnel. They themselves act like savages in hundreds of cases, from what I hear and read. Maybe it's the staff of Rikers that needs mental treatment.

The bigger issue is that there are hundreds of prisoners who have done nothing wrong. Inhaling, ingesting, imbibing drugs is not a crime. No one's rights are violated. No one's freedom is denied. Except those who are arrested and jailed for these actions that are not crimes.

Legalize drugs and crime will drop immediately and to a large degree.

Port Richmond, SI

Hi John,

I do think that the mentally ill should be kept separate and the officer's in charge should be specially trained. I believe in these hard times that we are living in where there seems to be no jobs available at all and I put sole blame on the politicians. Enough talk already = they should have tackled this problem long before this. The cost of living for only our daily needs to survive puts a strain on us all. Also many physicians just keep on supplying medication for every little problem and thus people are taking to much. Many people are put on a trail basis for drugs which is about two weeks and if they do not help the cause they try something else and that has to effect the body. One counteracts the other and it has to effect the patients. Where did DeBlazio get the people he selected for the task force? I hope they are qualified in their field to be able to make decisions. I believe that to many responsibilities are given to the City Council Members and to me that's a problem.

As far as the violence goes I am concerned about both inside Rikers and outside

Thank you John,


You can thank Mario Cuomo Senior for releasing them into the streets during his administration.

Park Hill

Mental illness should be treated at a mental illness facility not a prison. If these people weren't mentally ill perhaps they wouldn't be criminals at all.

Throwing them in jail does not rehabilitate them.

Arden heights.

Hi John

Have a Happy Father's day John

The mentally-ill criminals should be in a hospital they shouldn't be relased into the population and definitely not be relased back into society because the will commit violent crimes all over again, if Daniel St Hubert wasn't relased PJ and tanaya would still be alive and Makayla would be running around. I agree with the correction officer union president the mentally-ill patients should be in as hospital like Bellvue or some other mental institution and stay there for life or until they get better.

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