Here at The Willis Report, we bring you the stories of government abuse of our taxpayer dollars everyday, and today, we've got a doozy.
They say crime pays, and boy does it! Inmates held at Rikers Island here in New York, are suing the city for injuries they say they received in jail. Some say they slipped on soap in the shower, while others say beds that were too short injured them. I kid you not.
One inmate, Zaie Escribano, has been locked up on Rikers since 2009 for firing on two NYPD cops. He says a stopped-up drain in the shower caused him to fall, and says the city is at fault for not putting down rubber mats or orange hazard cones.
People familiar with the suits say a network of prisoners share names of lawyers, and even put attorney contact info near jail pay phones.
So far, the city has paid out $111.1 million- payments of $2,000 to make the suits go away.
The Department of Corrections has been sued 8,500 times between 2007 and 2011. It's not clear how many of those suits were filed by inmates, but more and more seem to be filed every year.
Take a look at these numbers:
The number of claims has risen from 1,481 in 2007 to 1,822 in 2011, and payouts are nothing to sneeze at; $15.4 million last year alone. Again, these are all suits against the Department of Correction.
This is just one city and one state. How is it that people, who have broken the law, committed violent crimes, not just against fellow citizens, but against society, that have the freedom to take taxpayer dollars?
It’s not right. Society loses twice. The most recent statistics for total spending on corrections in this country was $74 billion. We spend $9 billion a year incarcerating people awaiting trial who can't afford bail.
Cutting costs we know are illegitimate, like nuisance suits, would seem to be a small way to start cutting back those costs.
Gerri Willis is the host of "The Willis Report" (5PM/ET), a primetime program that covers the leading financial and political stories of the day and their impact on consumers. Click here to see more from Gerri Willis.