New York Inspector General report finds racial disparities in prison discipline

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ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Last week, a report from the New York Inspector General found racial disparities in the administration of misbehavior reports.

A Black incarcerated individuals was more than 22% likely to be issued a misbehavior report than a white incarcerated individual. And a Hispanic incarcerated individual was more than 12% likely to be issued a misbehavior report than a white incarcerated individual, according to the report’s findings.

But the Inspector General said there are ways to address this issue.

“We do believe however, that by creating more comprehensive rules about how and under what circumstances discipline is administered, it will decrease the disparities that we saw overtime in our analysis,” said Lucy Lang, New York State Inspector General.

A misbehavior report for an incarcerated person can vary in level of severity from privileges such as having visitors or time outside being suspended to losing parole opportunities and increased sentencing time.

In the report, Lang included recommendations for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). One of the recommendations is to clarify policy statement about when disciplinary action should be taken. The others included requiring annual anti-bias training for all staff, continuing the execution of an ongoing project to expand the use of fixed camera systems, and continuing to capture, analyze and publish data about disciplinary processes.

Lang said she hopes this report helps people understand the importance of this issue inside New York’s prisons.

“I hope this is a call to all New Yorker’s who have a say in how systems operate to share data, to analyze data, to identify racial disparities where they exist, and to proactively and aggressively seek to end them,” she said.

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision declined an interview. They referred WENY to a statement listed in the report that said they recognize that racial disparities exist in every layer of the criminal justice system and, “through continued analysis, education, and training, DOCCS will continue to emphasize our vision of a fair and just criminal justice system.”

Lang said she is hopeful the Department of Corrections and Community supervision will continue to address this issue.


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