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Calling reform a top priority, NYC mayor says fixing Rikers Island requires cultural change

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NEW YORK — The mayor says improving conditions on New York City's troubled Rikers Island jail complex will require deep-seated cultural change.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH'-zee-oh) said Thursday even he didn't appreciate the extent of the problems until revelations of misconduct, violence and the maltreatment of the mentally ill emerged this year.

He called fundamental cultural change at Rikers one of his administration's top priorities.

The Associated Press has reported extensively this year on the problems plaguing Rikers. The problems have included the gruesome deaths of two seriously mentally ill inmates.

About 40 percent of the roughly 11,000 inmates in the nation's second-largest jail system have a mental health diagnosis.

The mayor pointed to recent reforms as proof that change is under way.

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