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A recent study done at Rikers juvenile jails in New York City shows over half of teen inmates had suffered brain injuries before being incarcerated. So why have jail guards been beating these kids in the head?
Just a month after the study on brain injuries was released, the US Department of Justice released an even more disturbing report that Rikers’ juveniles are being routinely exposed to "rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force.”
One particularly brutal incident involving jail guards left four teen inmates with head traumas, including perforated eardrums, facial injuries and broken noses. These assaults were said to have taken place first in a school class trailer and then later while the inmates were handcuffed in a holding area!
Beyond being criminally brutal, Rikers’ use of this form of “correction” is incredibly ironic given the growing body of research showing that inmates who suffer brain trauma are more likely to break jail rules, suffer from substance abuse, and have considerable difficulty re-entering society after their release.
Although Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken steps toward reform, reform could not possibly occur fast enough to remedy this kind of unchecked brutality against juveniles.
Tell Rikers to get rid of guards who beat up kids in its jails - NOW!
We, the undersigned, say this brutal abuse of juvenile offenders cannot wait on reform - it must end at once!
The reality that guards are beating already brain-injured juveniles in the head makes these offenses all the more egregious, not only due to the harm it does to the juveniles, but to society as a whole.
Adding to the outrage is evidence of guards colluding to cover up these crimes. Even those that were caught were hardly penalized.
TBI expert John D. Corrigan explains that what’s happening with many of “these young adults in the criminal population, is they're having them [brain injuries] early in life," and their consequences aren't noticed until later.” And Dr. Wayne Gordon emphasizes that untreated brain injuries lead to huge costs to society in terms of homelessnes, disability, as well as incarceration.
Following the release of statistics on the high number of juvenile offenders with brain injuries at Rikers, a Department of Correction spokesperson responded with the DOC’s intent to "…develop new tools to meet the needs of adolescents who we know are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system."
But that response seems particularly shallow and inappropriate with these latest revelations by the DOJ. And DOJ’s recommendations, along with the mayor’s promise of reform, alone, seem way out of proportion to the level of abuse being committed by Rikers‘ guards.
This kind of unchecked brutality is not the kind that can wait on reform. This violence must end immediately!
Tell Rikers to get rid of all violent guards and stop beating up kids in jail!