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Investigation shows there are racial disparities in discipline within New York State prisons

  • / Updated:
  • Samantha Parish 

New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang recently published findings that revealed persistence of disparate treatment of Black and Brown New Yorkers at every stage of the criminal justice system.

The report also shows that despite policy changes implemented within the prison system, Black and Hispanic incarcerated people are still more likely than white people to be punished while in prison.

“There is no doubt that the criminal justice system is just one of many systems that have a devastatingly disproportionate impact on New Yorkers of color,” said Inspector General Lang. “Sadly, as reflected by the six years of data in our Report, although racial disparities may not start at the prison gates, unfortunately they also do not end there. We are hopeful that shining a light on this continuing inequality will contribute to changes in policy and practice that prioritize equal justice and dignity to incarcerated New Yorkers.”

Numbers show that a Black incarcerated person was 22% more likely to be issued a misbehavior report than a white person.

They showed that a Hispanic incarcerated person was 12% more likely to receive a misbehavior report than a white person.

Ultimately, while the overall or specific cause for the disparities could not be identified by data alone, the Inspector General’s analysis determined that they persisted regardless of the severity of crimes leading to incarceration, how long an individual has been incarcerated, or the demographics of DOCCS’s workforce. Notably, it was also determined that despite multiple corrective efforts undertaken by DOCCS to address this issue, the disparities increased slightly between 2017 and 2019, before increasing significantly in 2020, when Black and Hispanic incarcerated individuals were nearly 38 percent and 29 percent more likely than White incarcerated individuals to be issued a Misbehavior Report, respectively.

As part of her Report, the Inspector General also issued multiple recommendations to DOCCS, including requiring annual anti-bias training for all staff, capturing and analyzing additional data about disciplinary processes, publication of data that can be cross-referenced with demographic data, expanding the use of centralized hearing officers, and the continuing execution of an ongoing capital project to expand the use of fixed camera systems within all correctional facilities across the State.

Categories: New York StateNews