University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name CRIPA investigation of NYC Department of Correction Jails on Rikers Island JC-NY-0062
Docket / Court No Court Case ( No Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Case Summary
On Monday, August 4, 2014, Eric Holder, United States Attorney General, and Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, published a findings letter concerning the treatment of adolescent males at the New York City Department of Correction jails on Rikers Island. ... read more >
On Monday, August 4, 2014, Eric Holder, United States Attorney General, and Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, published a findings letter concerning the treatment of adolescent males at the New York City Department of Correction jails on Rikers Island.

The letter stated that the Department of Correction (DOC) had a pattern and practice of conduct at the Rikers Island jail that violated the constitutional rights of adolescent inmates. The U.S. Attorney's Office specifically found:
  • force is used against adolescents at an alarming rate and violent inmate-on-inmate fights and assaults are commonplace, resulting in a striking number of serious injuries;
  • correction officers resort to "headshots," or blows to an inmate's head or facial area, too frequently;
  • force is used as punishment or retribution;
  • force is used in response to inmates' verbal altercations with officers;
  • use of force by specialized response teams within the jails is particularly brutal;
  • correction officers attempt to justify use of force by yelling "stop resisting" even when the adolescent has been completely subdued or was never resisting in the first place; and
  • use of force is particularly common in areas without video surveillance cameras.

In addition, the letter stated that there was a serious deficiency of procedural safeguards and inappropriate prolonged punitive segregation.
A press release is available on the Department of Justice's website.

The Department of Justice decided not to file a new lawsuit as a result of the findings letter. Instead, on December 18, 2014, the Department of Justice filed a motion seeking permission to intervene in a private suit addressing many of the same issues, Nunez v. City of New York. The Court granted the unopposed motion on December 23, 2014; that case soon settled with a comprehensive agreement. This is further discussed in case JC-NY-0055 in this Clearinghouse.

Kathryn DeLong - 10/25/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Grievance Procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description The Department of Justice on behalf of adolescent males at the New York City Department of Correction jails on Rikers Island.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2015 - 2018
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing JC-NY-0055 : Nunez and United States v. City of New York (S.D.N.Y.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Written: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
RE: CRIPA Investigation of the New York City Department of Correction Jails on Rikers Island 08/04/2014
JC-NY-0062-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bharara, Preetinder S. (New York)
JC-NY-0062-0001
Daughtry, Emily E. (New York)
JC-NY-0062-0001
Powell, Jeffrey K. (New York)
JC-NY-0062-0001
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0062-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Carter, Zachary W. (New York)
JC-NY-0062-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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