Officials: Westchester County Jail implements all parts of agreement to correct constitutional violations
The Westchester County Jail has successfully implemented all parts of an agreement to correct constitutional violations after a 13-year investigation.
The conclusion was announced by the United States Attorney's Office, which initiated the investigation.
For years, officials found excessive use of force, isolation of minors, and inadequate medical and mental health care for inmates.
Changes include training staff in de-escalation tactics, reviewing use-of-force incidents immediately and putting more of an emphasis on rehabilitating inmates.
Percent wise, the number of people who return to jail has also decreased by 60%. This year, incidents with force have declined 45%, as well as tactics for de-escalation being used more than 80% of the time.
"We had to sort of identify the attributes we needed to move strategically in order to achieve real sustainable criminal justice reform,” says Louis Molina, of Westchester Corrections Department.
Since 2016, the county has made corrections as part of an agreement with the federal government.
An independent monitor says the jail is now in full compliance.
Molina says the jail has transformed into a learning organization, saying in part, "This is not the end of reform. We continue to evolve, to adapt to the changes in the community, the changes in people's lives."
Pace Law Professor David Dorfman says the Department of Justice’s case centered around people’s constitutional rights even while locked up.
"When you're dealing with jail people who have yet to be found guilty that they are treated with dignity and respect,” according to Dorfman.
In a statement, the federal government commended the jail on its achievement.
The county went beyond the government’s requirements by adding a legal aid office in the facility. More programs have also been provided to assist inmates once they’re released from jail.