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Slashing Gang Violence, Not Victims: New York City Department of Corrections Reduces Violent Jail Incidents Through Computerized Gang Tracking Data Base

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 22 Issue: 10 Dated: October 1997 Pages: 20-22
B A Nadel
Date Published
3 pages
The New York City Department of Corrections has developed a gang tracking program designed to reduce jail violence, identify gang members, and track their activities in jail and on the street; the program has helped reduce the average number of violent incidents in the Rikers Island jail complex from 150 to 33 per month since 1995.
The program includes a comprehensive intelligence network and a computerized gang tracking database. The program coordinates and shares computerized data with Federal, State, and local law enforcement authorities to help solve crimes, provide leads, and alert local police precincts about gang members about to be released from jail. Corrections officers now college intelligence on how gangs communicate and are developing an extensive digitized photo database using ordinary computer equipment and software. The New York City jail system includes 16 correctional facilities with an average daily population of 20,000 inmates and 133,000 admissions in fiscal year 1997. The system tracks uses of force, slashing, stabbing, the use of chemical agents, the names of those involved and injured, the number of injuries, weapons recovered, hospital runs, and whether an incident was gang related. The Department of Corrections also proactively investigates internal gang activity, notes inmates' affiliations with security risk groups, and produces gang profile reports. First Deputy Commissioner Bernard Kerik suggests that anyone developing gang tracking programs evaluate the problem, determine the types and sources of violence, identify the group, create a database with the primary indicators, and assess what to keep internally and what to make public. Kerik plans to make the recently developed policies a stable and regular part of the corrections department.