Crim­i­nal over­spend­ing

New York Daily News - - EDITORIAL -

The city’s chief fis­cal watch­dog snoozed for three long years while Mayor de Bla­sio and the city Board of Cor­rec­tion em­barked on stag­ger­ing folly dressed in good in­ten­tions, all but end­ing soli­tary con­fine­ment for city jail in­mates who refuse to fol­low con­duct rules. Now that he takes up the cause of clos­ing Rik­ers Is­land, set­ting an ag­gres­sive 2020 goal, Con­troller Scott Stringer rubs his eyes — my good­ness! — and dis­cov­ers that the costs of run­ning city jails have gone through the roof.

The city’s Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion now spends more than $143,000 per in­mate on an an­nual ba­sis, and nearly $271,000 if count­ing pen­sions and other ben­e­fits for cor­rec­tion of­fi­cers — $742 for each in­mate, ev­ery god­damn day. That’s more than dou­ble the cost a decade ago. Dou­ble the state prison av­er­age. Enough for a full four-year Har­vard ed­u­ca­tion with room, board and spring break trips thrown in.

And largely at­trib­ut­able, though Stringer can’t bring him­self to say so to the crim­i­nal jus­tice ad­vo­cates he’s fawn­ing to please, to de Bla­sio’s al­most com­plete phase­out of soli­tary, start­ing in 2015.

To main­tain the barest sem­blance of order as gang mem­bers took ad­van­tage of new­found free­dom to wreak havoc in the jails, the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion went on a hir­ing and over­time binge even as the num­ber of in­mates de­clined, end­ing up with more cor­rec­tion of­fi­cers — nearly 11,000 — than the pop­u­la­tion they now guard.

Or at­tempt to guard: Cell­blocks are now no­tably more vi­o­lent, with in­mate fights and as­saults on staff both in­creas­ingly fre­quent.

In June 2014, this edi­to­rial page warned of the in­evitable con­se­quences of end­ing soli­tary: “The cor­rec­tion sys­tem has nei­ther the staffing nor the cell­block de­signs needed to man­age hordes of vi­o­lently ill crim­i­nals.”

Stringer now says clos­ing Rik­ers is the so­lu­tion, and maybe so. Mean­while, he and de Bla­sio do their cause no fa­vors by dodg­ing ac­count­ing for the stun­ning bill Bill rung up.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.