FY 2019 Agency Watch List

Department of Correction

May 11, 2018

Why is This Agency on the Watch List?

As the Office of the Comptroller has previously documented, although the Department of Correction’s (DOC) inmate population has fallen 20%, from an average daily population of 11,400 in FY 2014 to under 9,200 in the first four months of FY 2018, spending continues to rise:  total agency spending is projected to rise 29% from FY 2014 to FY 2018 (as of the FY 2019 Executive Budget).  Per inmate staffing ratios and costs have risen substantially.  Despite this expenditure of resources, “[t]he use of force has continued to increase rather than diminish, even as the inmate population has decreased,” in the words of the Nunez Independent Monitor.[1]  Accordingly, the Comptroller has included the DOC on his Agency Watch List for FY 2019.  First announced in the Comptroller’s Preliminary Budget Presentation, spotlights City agencies – the Department of Correction (DOC), Department of Education (DOE), and homeless services – that raise the most budgetary concerns due to rapidly increased spending and meager measurable results.  Reports, to be released quarterly, will review trends and recommend indicators that should be reported and monitored to evaluate the effectiveness of agency spending in achieving the Administration’s stated goals.

Recent Developments

  • After several investigations and reports, DOC began the process of ending punitive segregation for inmates 21 years of age and younger in 2015. DOC has developed alternative housing strategies for different populations, including youth and young adults.
  • In March 2015, the City announced a 14-point Rikers anti-violence agenda. Key objectives included: keeping contraband out of Rikers; creating a housing strategy to more safely house inmates; providing comprehensive security camera coverage; designing inmate education services to reduce idle time; and developing crisis intervention teams.
  • Also in 2015, the City settled a lawsuit brought by a group of detainees, the Nunez settlement. Among its 300 provisions, the settlement notably required: removal of juveniles under the age of 18 from Rikers by October 31, 2018; establishment of a Use of Force policy; training for correction officers on the Use of Force policy, crisis intervention, and conflict resolution; and reduced reliance on punitive segregation for 18 year-olds

Indicators to Watch

The Watch List includes tables with selected indicators as reported in the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR) and other sources.  Also included are key indicators that should be tracked and reported in order to evaluate the effectiveness of initiatives, labeled “Indicators to watch.”  A number of these are not currently publicly reported, however, and the Administration should move immediately to make the relevant statistics publicly available and ultimately incorporate them into the MMR.

Budget and Spending

  FY 14 FY 15 FY 16 FY 17 FY 18* FY 18
To Date**
FY 19*
Expenditures ($mil) $1,103.1 $1,162.1 $1,307.6 $1,368.6 $1,421.8 $1,133.0 $1,401.9
Overtime (Unif.) ($mil) $125.4 $180.5 $253.6 $240.4 $203.4 $162.8 $150.4
Overtime (Total) ($mil) $139.1 $196.3 $274.8 $266.4 $210.2 $182.0 $157.4
Personnel (Unif.) 8,922 8,756 9,832 10,862 10,427 10,873 10,226
Overtime/Unif. N/A $20,613 $25,791 $22,130 $19,504 N/A $14,705
Personnel (Civl’n) 1,353 1,418 1,569 1,729 2,195 1,772 2,273
SOURCE:  Office of the Comptroller; Financial Management System.
NOTES:  N/A: Not available.  *Budgeted, as of FY 2019 Executive Budget.  **As of 04/30/18.

Indicators to Watch

  • Overtime spending per uniformed headcount (not reported; calculated by Comptroller’s Office)
  • Average number of fixed posts requiring coverage; monthly (not reported)

Census, Staffing, and Cost

  • Annual admissions and average daily population (ADP) continue to fall.
  • Uniformed headcount has risen.
  • As a result, ratio of inmates to Correction Officers has fallen, and cost per inmate has risen.
  FY 14 FY 15 FY 16 FY 17 FY 18*
Admissions 77,141 67,672 63,758 58,226 18,459
Avg. Daily Population 11,408 10,240 9,790 9,500 9,180
Inmate:CO Ratio** 1.28 1.17 1.00 0.87 0.87
Avg. Cost per Inmate** $96,695 $113,487 $133,568 $144,067 N/A
SOURCE:  Office of the Comptroller based on Mayor’s Management Report.  *Through 10/31/17.

Indicators to Watch

  • Annual admissions (MMR)
  • Average daily population (monthly at https://rikers.cityofnewyork.us/)
  • Average length of stay (not reported in FY 2018 Preliminary MMR)
  • Average cost per inmate; annual (not reported; calculated by Comptroller’s Office)

Violent Incidents and Use of Force

  • After rising sharply over the last several years, indicators of violence in City jails have begun to show signs of stabilizing.
  • The Administration initiated a 14-Point Plan to reduce violence at Rikers, including risk-based housing and staffing; the creation of specialized housing units; expansion of video camera coverage, recruit and staff training, and others.
Rate per 1,000 ADP FY 14 FY 15 FY 16 FY 17 FY 18*
Fight/assault infractions 774 920 1,148 1,332 1,306
Violent inmate-on-inmate incidents 395 454 574 662 655
Inmate assault on staff 70.8 103.2 94.8 100.8 107
Incidents/allegations of use of force 370 471 538 534 584
SOURCE:  Office of the Comptroller based on Mayor’s Management Report.  *Projected based on data through 10/31/17.
Programs spending

($ millions)

FY 14 FY 15 FY 16 FY 17 FY 18* FY 19*
Programs $3.8 $4.2 $5.3 $11.8 $20.4 $21.4
14-Point Idleness Reduction N/A N/A $0.8 $7.8 $11.2 $11.0

SOURCE:  Office of the Comptroller; Financial Management System.  *Budgeted as of FY 2019 Executive Budget.

Indicators to Watch

  • Rates of violent incidents; quarterly (DOC LL33 security indicator reports)
  • Hours of required training per Nunez settlement per uniformed staff member; annual (not reported)
  • Use of punitive segregation and alternatives (DOC LL42 quarterly reports)
  • Crisis intervention team deployments; quarterly (not reported)
  • Hours of programming per inmate; quarterly (not reported)

Access to Health and Mental Health Services

  • As admissions have fallen, the percentage of inmates with mental health diagnosis has gone up slightly.
  • DOC has created new housing units and programs for inmates with mental health diagnoses in the last several years, including the Clinical Alternative to Punitive Segregation (CAPS) unit for those with serious mental health diagnoses and the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) programs for those with less serious diagnoses.
  • Spending on Health Affairs and the Health Management Division has risen from $3.1 million in FY 2014 to $5.5 million in FY 2018 (budgeted, as of the FY 2019 Executive Budget)


  FY 14 FY 15 FY 16 FY 17 FY 18*
Inmates with mental health diagnosis (% ADP) 38% 41% 42% 42% N/A
Inmates with serious mental health diagnosis (% ADP) 10.2% 11.1% 11.0% 10.3% 11.8%
Inmate health clinic visits 77,825 81,873 78,499 79,844 25,782
SOURCE:  Mayor’s Management Report.  *Through 10/31/17.

Indicators to Watch

Re-Entry Services and Recidivism

  • The Individualized Correction Achievement Network, or I-CAN, was created in 2013 and intended to reduce recidivism among high-risk inmates, which was expanded to include medium-risk inmates in 2015.
  • In March 2017, the Administration announced that all inmates would receive re-entry services by the end of calendar year 2017
FY 14 FY 15 FY 16 FY 17 FY 18*
I-CAN enrollments 2,408 2,321 4,278 7,569 2,335
I-CAN workshops 1,580 2,065 6,505 12,002 4,902
Avg daily number of inmates in vocational skills training programs 216 256 226 419 416
Inmates participating in skills-building activities/discharge planning 10.3% 10.5% 8.7% 14.0% n/a
SOURCE:  Mayor’s Management Report.  *Through 10/31/17.

Indicators to Watch

  • Percent of inmates eligible for discharge planning who receive a plan; annual (not reported)
  • Inmates earning a GED; annual (not reported)
  • Post-release job placements and retention; annual (not reported)
  • Readmissions; annual (not reported)

[1] Fifth Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor, filed April 18, 2018.