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Spike in Violence at Rikers Island—But Why?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Violence is on the rise at Rikers Island, according to an investigation by The New York Times.

Reporter Michael Schwirtz found that at least a dozen inmates have been slashed or stabbed this year alone. Schwirtz's investigation also found that in the last decade, use of force by correction officers jumped nearly 240 percent. The reason? The increasing number of mentally ill.

"It's really not a population that the jail was set up to deal with," he said. "The way they deal with disciplinary problems in the jail...typically, is through force. And this can often exacerbate somebody's mental illness."

Schwirtz's report comes the same week that a mentally ill inmate at Rikers Island died in a cell reported to be over 100 degrees.

The state Corrections Department is now investigating the inmate's death.

Produced by:

Annmarie Fertoli, Lee Hernandez and Tracie Hunte

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