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Feds Seek to Join Suit Against NYC Over Youth Violence at Rikers Island

They say the city has been too slow to institute reforms after a report found a "deep-seated culture of violence" at the lockup.

The feds are going to court to force New York City to crack down on a "deep-seated culture of violence" in youth lockups at the Rikers Island jail. The Justice Department and a Manhattan prosecutor are seeking permission to join a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Correction, saying jail staff use unnecessary force against adolescents, subject them to solitary confinement and fail to protect them from violence.

Although Mayor Bill de Blasio just banned solitary confinement for those under 18, the city has been too slow in enacting reforms, the federal officials said. "Given the longstanding sad state of affairs at Rikers Island, our impatience is more than understandable," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "As I’ve said before, one way or another, we will get enduring and enforceable reform at Rikers Island.”


— Tracy Connor