Costs per Inmate have Risen 42% Since FY07 while Indicators of Violence have Soared

NEW YORK, NY – New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a new analysis today on the Department of Correction (Correction) showing how the rise in violence in the City’s jails has occurred even as taxpayers spend more money on fewer inmates.

“The high cost of failure in our City jails has become too expensive for New Yorkers to ignore,” Comptroller Stringer said. “In an era of declining crime and detention, violence and costs at City jails should be decreasing. Instead, past leadership at the Department of Correction allowed jail conditions for correction officers and inmates to degenerate.”

Stringer’s analysis showed that:

  • The number of inmates held in New York City’s jails has declined by 18 percent since FY07. Nevertheless, the Correction budget has continued to rise, with the annualized cost per inmate increasing over 42 percent from $67,565 in FY 07 to $96,232 in FY14.
  • Despite this increase in spending, City jails have become more dangerous in recent years, with the rate of fight/assault infractionsincreasing 65 percent from 470 infractions per 1,000 average daily population (ADP) in FY07 to 774 per 1,000 ADP in FY14.
  • Inmate assaults on staff have risen by 124 percent, increasing from 31.6 assaults per 1,000 ADP in FY07 to 70.8 assaults per 1,000 ADP in FY14 and allegations of the use of force by correction officers on inmates has nearly tripled from FY07 to FY14.
  • During this same period, the number of correction officers has decreased by three percent, a slower rate than the inmate population, with the Correction uniform headcount dropping from 9,203 in FY07 to 8,922 in FY14. As a result, the correction officer to inmate ratio has risen 19 percent from 0.66 officers per inmate in FY07 to 0.78 officers per inmate in FY14.
  • Agency wide overtime costs have also accelerated despite increases in correction officer-to-inmate ratios. Overtime costs of $101 million in FY07 jumped to a record $155 million in FY13, before dropping to $139 million in FY14.
  • New York City’s average inmate costs are more than twice as high as comparable cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Miami.

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In June, Mayor de Blasio, recognizing the need for reform took the critical step of forming a Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System. The Task Force is charged with developing a plan to transform the City’s criminal justice system, including conditions at Rikers Island and other City jails.

“It is my hope that this new analysis can provide Correction leadership and the Task Force with the tools they need to assess potential avenues for reform,” Comptroller Stringer said. “We need to marshal every resource at our disposal to uproot the culture of violence in the City’s jails and engage stakeholders from across the country to identify and implement best practices here at home.”

The Comptroller’s analysis follows the release of an August “ClaimStat Alert” on the Department of Correction, which identified key trends in claims at City jails.

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