Prisoners' Rights Evaluates Rikers Island Reforms
TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2016

Mary Lynne Werlwas, Director of the Prisoners' Rights Project at The Legal Aid Society, discussed the perspective of PRP on the reforms at Rikers Island with ABC News.

Mary Lynne discussed the increase in head traumas and the use of pepper spray since the settlement in Nunez, Her conclusion is an Incomplete for the Rikers report card.

Prisoners' Rights Project Evaluates Rikers Island Reforms
May 21, 2016

When New York City settled a class-action lawsuit over abuses at Rikers Island, officials agreed to implement reforms that would, in the words of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, “fix a broken system and dismantle a decades-long culture of violence.”

That was June 2015. As the first anniversary approaches of the settlement approaches, Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte says the reforms are working. He points to a 50 percent decrease in incidents that cause serious injury to inmates, 41 percent fewer assaults on staff causing serious injury, and a 70 percent reduction in the number of inmates in punitive segregation.

But prosecutors and lawyers who were involved with the original lawsuit, Nunez v. City of New York, are watching closely to see if Ponte will be able to change Rikers' longstanding culture of violence and abuse. ABC News sat down with Mary Lynne Werlwas, head of the Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project, to get her perspective on how Rikers is doing one year after the consent decree.

VIDEO: Prisoners Rights Project Report Card of RikersPlay

Mary Lynne Werlwas, head of the Legal Aid Society's Prisoners' Rights Project, offers her perspective on how Rikers is doing.