Feds Threaten Lawsuit Against NYC Over Rikers Island Jail Reforms


U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan suggested that New York officials were not moving quickly enough to make reforms at the city’s Rikers Island jail complex and warned that he stood ready to file a civil rights lawsuit against the city to force changes, the New York Times reports. He referred to an article in the Times yesterday that said key portions of a report on violence at Rikers had been withheld from federal investigators and that officials involved in reporting distorted data were promoted.

Bharara has been in discussions with Mayor Bill de Blasio's office since publishing on Aug. 4 findings of a civil rights investigation into the abuse of teenage inmates at Rikers. A scathing 79-page report included 10 pages of recommendations and said the city had until yesterday to agree to “develop specific policies and procedures that will implement the remedial measures” or potentially face a lawsuit. City officials last year, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor, did not provide federal investigators with key sections of an internal review that found hundreds of fights between inmates at the adolescent jail at Rikers were omitted from departmental statistics. The audit recommended that wardens William Clemons and Turhan Gumusdere be demoted.

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