Historic Agreement Reached on Jail Brutality at Rikers Island

  • June 23, 2015

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel (ECBAWM), together with The Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project and Ropes & Gray, as well as the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), have reached an agreement with New York City to reform the widespread abuse of prisoners by correction staff on Rikers Island. This agreement would settle Nunez v. New York, the 2012 class action brought to halt excessive force by City jail staff. DOJ joined as a plaintiff in December 2014.

Today, the plaintiffs, DOJ, and the City notified the Court of the outlines of the agreement which would become an enforceable federal consent decree, monitored by an independent correctional expert. The Agreement would require the Department of Correction to implement new policies and practices to curb the rampant misuse of force that has plagued Rikers Island for the past many decades.

Details about these reforms are in the attached letter to the Court, sent by the Department of Justice with all parties’ agreement.

The Agreement must be approved by the Department of Justice and Mayor’s Office before it is submitted to the Court for a hearing and approval if the Court finds it fair, reasonable, and adequate.

“This is an historic agreement to fix the long-standing problem of excessive force which has plagued Rikers Island for decades,” said Jonathan S. Abady of ECBAWM, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “The agreement is the product of extraordinary work on the part of all parties. What could have been an adversarial process was converted into a collaborative enterprise where everyone embraced the need for lasting reform and then committed themselves to measures that would achieve that.”

To read the New York Times‘ coverage, click here and here.