New York City officials have agreed to broad new measures to control the use of force by guards against inmates in city jails, including the use of blows to the head, the New York Times reports. Settling a 2002 suit by the Legal Aid Society, the city agreed to revise guidelines on how guards may use force, post hundreds of new video cameras in jails, overhaul its procedures for investigating violence, and provide more training for guards in how to restrain inmates. The city will pay $2.2 million to 22 inmates who were injured in clashes with guards. Inmates filing suit had suffered shattered cheekbones, ruptured eyeballs, and split eardrums after officers threw punches at their heads instead of using less damaging methods.
The new video cameras will watch the guards as well as the inmates. There are about 13,750 inmates in the city system on an average day. While the city had responded to lawsuits dating to 1983 with reforms in a few detention centers, the new settlement calls for changes across all 11 jails in the system. The Times says the settlement will accelerate in New York the application of practices, like video monitoring and self-defense tactics for guards that do not involve using fists, that have been standard in other big-city correction systems.