Hearing probes jail violence, mental health care

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Associated Press

Posted on June 12, 2014 at 1:05 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 12 at 4:33 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawmakers have peppered health and correction officials for three hours with questions about rising levels of violence in New York City jails and the best way to care for a growing number of mentally ill inmates.

Commissioners from the departments of correction and health and mental hygiene appeared before a City Council oversight hearing Thursday.

Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte (PONT') told councilmembers Rikers Island is in need of reform but cautioned change will take time.

Department statistics show that though the inmate population has fallen in recent years, both levels of violence and the proportion of mentally ill inmates has risen.

Their testimony comes following reports by The Associated Press detailing two grisly deaths of inmates with psychological problems on Rikers Island.

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