NEW YORK (WABC) -- Serious injuries caused by violence between inmates within facilities operated by the New York City Department of Correction rose 284% in the 2020 fiscal year, according to an annual report released in September.
The 2020 Department of Correction Mayor's Management Report attributed some of the increase in serious injuries to a new department policy which changed the definition of serious injuries.
Other violence indicators also increased in the past fiscal year.
Slashing and stabbing incidents, specifically, increased by 16% in DOC facilities, according to the report.
The number of assaults on DOC staff and serious injury to staff also increased.
The violence comes as the number of inmates at Rikers fell by roughly 47% since the start of the fiscal year.
According to the report, the individuals who remained in custody were individuals, "charged with more serious offenses, who are more frequently affiliated with gangs, and who are more violent while incarcerated."
Benny Boscio, President of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, said the statistics should serve as a wake-up call for the department.
"We need safety in our jails now," Boscio said. "You are seeing more violence because the consequences for inmates have been watered down tremendously. So, if they know there are no consequences, it's open season on my members. Now there is talk about doing away with punitive segregation. We can't do away with it. We have to have consequences, and we have to be able to segregate violent inmates."
Despite the increased violence, use of force incidents by DOC staff rose just 2% and allegations of use of force declined compared to 2019.
According to the department, monthly use of force incidents have also decreased over the last quarter -- a trend the department attributes to ongoing officer training.
"Safety is our top priority, and even as we engage with an increasingly challenging population, we are encouraged that we saw a decrease in fights and no increase in Use of Force allegations. We are also heartened by new training techniques that led to a 30% decline in Use of Force at the facility housing the majority of our young adults, and we are rolling out these innovations department-wide," wrote DOC Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Peter Thorne.
In its report, the department also indicated it's implementing a case management program designed to confront violence through individualized plans for inmates, intended to better support their needs.
DO YOU NEED A STORY INVESTIGATED? Danielle Leigh and the 7 On Your Side Investigates team at Eyewitness News want to hear from you! Call our confidential tip line 1-877-TIP-NEWS (847-6397) or fill out the form BELOW. You can also contact Danielle Leigh directly:
Email your questions, issues, or story ideas to 7OnYourSideDanielle@abc.com