•On any given day in 2014, there are nearly 500 teenagers aged between 16 and 18 years old serving time or awaiting court hearings on Rikers Island.
•Around 51% of this teenage population have been diagnosed with a mental illness.
•Fully 90.9% of the corrections officers who started working at the youth jail on Rikers in 2012 were on their first assignment from the training academy.
When a mentality of “punch in the face first, cover up later” takes root, the bigger challenge for Rikers and other jail systems becomes changing the culture that has made it so apparently acceptable for prisoners to be treated as less than human. There will always be rogue officers who want to abuse their power, but they might be less likely to do so if a jail adopts a zero-tolerance policy toward abuse and those found abusing their power were to face criminal charges.
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