March 7, 2014

New York City Minutes: Crime Rates Fall, A Lawsuit is Dropped, and Rikers Island Is Still Not The Place to Be

A common refrain from self-styled law and order types leading into Bill de Blasio's electoral romp last fall was that his mayoralty would usher in a crime wave of epic proportions. Unfortunately, for those eagerly hoping to be proven right by a large resurgence of violent crime, crime figures in the city since de Blasio's taken office have actually dropped. Over the past two months, serious crime has dropped to a rate below that of 2013 (a banner year, by the way) in almost every category. It's far too early to know how the de Blasio/Bratton regime will fare, or how Bratton's continuation of his "broken windows" approach to policing will affect the overall statistics. But, so far, New York City is doing just fine.

Surprising virtually nobody, the de Blasio administration has announced it will withdraw a lawsuit against the City Council, which was originally intended to block a new law passed by the Council in 2013 that created a private right of action for victims of racial profiling by the NYPD.

The Bloomberg/Kelly administration had launched the litigation late last year as part of its desperate and doomed effort to defend the embattled Stop and Frisk program on several fronts. The City fought District Judge Shira Scheindlin's finding that the City's policy employed racial profiling and was unconstitutional , in several filings in the United States Court of Appeals, and declared that it would fight the City Council's legislation as well. The City has already stated that it will withdraw all appellate filings and work to settle the Stop and Frisk litigation.

This entirely expected decision is just one more rejection by de Blasio of Bloomberg's unapologetic embrace of Stop and Frisk. The policy itself is far from dead, and it will be interesting to see how it is modified and applied over the upcoming months.

In other, not particularly surprising news, it turns out that inmates at Rikers Island are getting beaten up a lot by the guards. And apparently during these beatings, the guards tend to hit the inmates in the head. Four corrections officers (Christopher Huggins, Ronald Donnelley, Michael Dorsainvil and Mark Anglin) were just arrested and charged with covering up the beating of an inmate. According to the New York Daily News, they were in custody today and awaiting arraignment.

The article also cites a report issued by the City's Health Department that found 8,557 verified injuries suffered by Rikers Island inmates between April 2012 and April 2013, of which 1,257 injuries were allegedly the result of abuse by correction officers. Of those injuries, about 350 (28%) involved blows to the head. New York Department of Corrections protocol states that officers only to strike an inmate in the head as a last resort, as these blows can cause serious or fatal injuries.

How these numbers stack up against past years isn't clear, nor is there any indication that the any prosecuting or investigating agency intends to do more than glance quickly at the numbers and then look away.

No comments:

Post a Comment