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At public hearing, NYC jail boss says restrictive Rikers Island unit needed to stop violence


NEW YORK — New York City's jails commissioner says Rikers Island needs a proposed 250-bed restrictive housing unit to control inmate violence.

But Commissioner Joseph Ponte (PAHNT) insisted at a public hearing Friday that the contested $14.8 million plan isn't meant to be punitive.

Inmate advocates and others said at a public hearing that the "enhanced supervision housing" plan is overly broad and could violate inmate rights.

Jail officials say it's necessary to contain the small number of inmates responsible for a disproportionate amount of jail violence.

But they've also said solitary confinement reforms won't take place until it's created.

The plan allows jailers to lock inmates in their cells for up to 17 hours daily, instead of eight, and stop contact visits, among other restrictions.

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