An investigation published Sunday by the New York Daily News into logs of violent incidents at Rikers Island alleges that administrators routinely downgrade reported incidents of violence—like knife fights and other physical altercations between inmates, as well as attacks on correctional officers—to "create the impression they have turned matters around."
The report alleges that Rikers Security Chief Turhan Gumusdere "repeatedly order[ed] underlings to downgrade incidents" of physical assaults to artificially lower statistics on cases of violence. One anonymous source told the Daily News that “[Jail bosses] lie about the use of force statistics" in order to "keep the stats down.”
The Daily News reviewed 11 of these cases and found that nine had been downgraded, a small fraction of the number of violent incidents the paper believes occur annually.
"Each of the last two fiscal years has seen more than 100 stabbings and slashings, a threshold not passed since 1999 when the prison population of nearly 20,000 was about double its size today," it reported.
The New York City Department of Corrections vehemently denies any wrongdoing.
“Any claim that our numbers are manipulated is absolutely false," a spokesperson the Department of Corrections told Complex. "We have a rigorous process for capturing and reporting incidents. After thoroughly reviewing each of these cases, we stand by the reclassifications.”
The infamous jail complex was the subject of a 2015 Pulitzer Prize-nominated article written by The New Yorker's Jennifer Gonnerman. It told the story of a former Rikers inmate, Kalief Browder, who spent three years in the jail as a teenager (some of those in solitary confinement) for a crime he didn't commit.