Deal Between NYC, Feds on Jail Reforms Expected Soon

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's office said Thursday that negotiations between the city and federal authorities over reforms at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex should reach "a successful conclusion" soon.

City and federal prosecutors have been negotiating for months, and the federal government sued the city in December to speed up the pace of reforms. Early next week had been set as a date for a deal to be completed that would look at issues including a federal monitor, use of force, and increasing surveillance cameras at Rikers.

"Our goal remains to reduce violence that impacts both inmates and staff," said de Blasio press secretary Karen Hinton. "This agreement will be a major step towards the achievement of that vision. While details are still being worked through, we fully expect a successful conclusion to this process within a few days."

The Associated Press has reported on claims of widespread brutality at Rikers and the gruesome deaths of mentally ill inmates. Data showed city jail guards reported using force against inmates 4,074 times in 2014.

Federal prosecutors have made numerous recommendations. The city has taken steps such as ending solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates.

City Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte also is overseeing the revision of use-of-force rules.

"Commissioner Ponte has been deeply committed to an agenda of reform and we are pleased to have made so much progress institutionalizing those changes as part of this process," Hinton said.

The Rikers complex, in the East River, consists of 10 facilities that hold an average of nearly 11,000 inmates a day.

The New York Times first reported Thursday a deal was near.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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