MANHATTAN — Violence at Rikers Island is on the rise even as the number of people housed at the troubled jail has declined and spending per inmate has increased dramatically, according to a report released Friday by Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The amount spent per inmate at Rikers has increased 18 percent to $96,232 in the 2014 fiscal year compared to 2007. In the same period, the number of fights and assaults have increased 65 percent and inmate assault on staff also increased by 124 percent.
“In an era of declining crime and detention, violence and costs at city jails should be decreasing," Stringer said in a statement.
Rikers Island has come under greater scrutiny over the last several months after reports about conditions at the jail surfaced. Inmates are subjected to regular beatings by correction officers, according to a class action lawsuit.
The Associated Press reported that almost 30 percent of injuries reported as being caused to inmates by correction officers between April 2012 and April 2013 involved blows to the head — which are supposed to be a last resort tactic because they can be fatal.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara released a report in August that said adolescent inmates at Rikers Island jail face a "systematic culture of violence" where corrections officers are allowed to beat them without fear of repercussion.
"Rikers Island is broken," Bharara said at a press conference where he released his 79 page report.
Stringer's report revealed that the number of correction officers has decreased at a rate slower than the inmate population, meaning that the officer to inmate ratio has actually increased 19 percent.
At the same time, overtime costs have soared. In the 2013 fiscal year overtime costs hit a record $155 million before dropping to $139 million the next year. That's up from overtime costs of $101 million for the 2007 fiscal year.
The Department of Correction did not immediately return calls for comment.
Stringer said he hopes the report will help the mayoral task force de Blasio formed in June to reform the city's criminal justice system.
“We need to marshal every resource at our disposal to uproot the culture of violence in the City’s jails and engage stakeholders from across the country to identify and implement best practices here at home.”