Violence, conditions in jails focus of hearing

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NEW YORK (AP) — New York City lawmakers plan to ask Department of Correction officials about rising levels of violence and the treatment of mentally ill inmates at a specially-called hearing.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley says she'll ask Commissioner Joseph Ponte (PONT') Thursday to detail how he plans to "turn the tide" on Rikers Island.

Ponte started as commissioner in April. He has a reputation as reformer and said at a recent budget hearing the department of correction is "deeply troubled."

Correction department statistics show violent inmate-on-inmate incidents and incidents alleging use-of-force have increased since 2009.

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

The hearing was called following reports by The Associated Press detailing two grisly deaths of inmates with psychological problems.

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