Head of Prisoners' Rights Points Out Continuing Problem of Violence At City Jails
SUNDAY, JULY 26, 2009

John Boston, Director of The Legal Aid Society's Prisoners' Rights Project, responded to the Department of Correction latest statistical report by pointing out that there is a continuing problem of violence.

"You don't make the place less violent by removing a particular form of weapon," Boston told the Daily News. "The department needs to do more to curb it. The next commissioner must make that a priority, " referring to the announced retirement of Commissioner Martin Horn. The DOC statistics showed that there was a slight increase in the number of stabbings and slashings and an increase in the number of assaults against staff, including correction officers.

Horn said that there were 40 stabbings or slashings in 2003 when he became commissioner and that the number had been reduced to 21 during the last fiscal year.

 

New York Daily News
Safety a key concern in New York City jails as numbers of attacks released
July 26, 2009
BY Wil Cruz

Shank attacks inside the city's jails are up slightly, but it's not as bad as it used to be.

The latest Department of Correction statistics show there were 21 stabbings and slashings during the last fiscal year ending in June. That's two more than in the previous fiscal year.

At the same time, the number of assaults against staff, including correction officers, rose from 427 to 458 - a blip of less than 1%.

Commissioner Martin Horn said there were 40 stabbings or slashings in 2003, the year he took over the department.

"The jails continue to be the safest they have ever been and the safest big city jails in the nation," said Horn, who is retiring this summer.

Still, there was one murder in the jail system - the October killing of Christopher Robinson. Bronx prosecutors said the teen was attacked for refusing to join a fight club, a team of inmate enforcers for correction officers.

Three officers and a dozen inmates have been indicted.

Prison rights advocates and correction sources said the statistics don't capture the full violence in the city's jail system, including the sprawling Rikers Island.

John Boston of the Legal Aid Society said weaponless attacks are just as dangerous.

"You don't make the place less violent by removing a particular form of weapon," said Boston, director of the group's Prisoners' Rights Project. "We think there is a continuing problem of violence."

Boston hopes Horn's replacement will make the jails even safer.

"The department needs to do more to curb it," he said. "The next commissioner must make that a priority."

wcruz@nydailynews.com