Amid increased scrutiny, New York City jails commissioner details Rikers Island reforms

Associated Press

New York City's corrections commissioner has detailed proposed reforms to the problem-plagued Rikers Island jail complex in the wake of increased scrutiny and a scathing federal review.

Commissioner Joseph Ponte (PAHNT) told oversight board members Tuesday that a private consulting firm will review the department's practices to provide "a new set of eyes."

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He also explained plans to eliminate a backlog of about 1,000 inmates who owe time in solitary confinement and to introduce new punishments that don't involve a 23-hour lock in.

He said he'd eventually eliminate punitive confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates.

Ponte's proposed reforms come just a month after the U.S. attorney found widespread violence in the facilities that hold adolescent inmates at Rikers. Government lawyers gave officials 49 days to put forth reforms.