Yesterday, in a settlement that's been more than three years in the making, city officials and federal prosecutors agreed to a long list of reforms for Rikers Island. These reforms aim to "reduce violence in the jails and ensure the safety and well-being of inmates," according to a statement issued yesterday by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Many of the measures—including a new, explicit policy for documenting and reporting use of force against inmates, a trial run of body cameras for correction officers, and the installation of thousands of new security cameras "to insure complete camera coverage of the jails"—are directed explicitly at correction officers.

Yesterday's settlement was in regards to Nunez v. City of New York, a class action lawsuit filed in the spring of 2012, in which 11 then-inmates claimed that they had suffered "unprovoked" beatings at the hands of Rikers guards.

Bharaha joined the lawsuit last winter, after his office's two-year investigation into the treatment of minors on Rikers revealed a "deep-seated culture of violence" rife with inmate beatings. According to the report, there were more than a thousand incidents of officer-on-minor beatings in 2012 and 2013 respectively—many against inmates who refused to "hold it down," or keep quiet about instances of violence.

“I have repeatedly made clear our unwavering commitment to enduring and enforceable reform at Rikers Island," said Bharara in a statement yesterday, adding that his hope for these new reforms is to "fix a broken system and dismantle a decades-long culture of violence." According to the settlement, the DOC will "make best efforts" to instate new, separate housing for inmates under the age of 18, where correction officers will receive special training in conflict resolution.

Other reforms include the preparation of "timely and detailed reports" on every use-of-force incident within Rikers; mandatory DOC investigations into said incidents; serious penalties, including job termination, for offending officers; and an "early warning" system that will aim to "identify as soon as possible correction officers whose conduct may warrant corrective actions."

The settlement also calls for stricter hiring practices, likely in response to a DOI probe from January which found that more than one-third of jail guards recently hired by the DOC had criminal histories, gang affiliations, or "significant psychological problems." Today, the Daily News released their findings, via Freedom of Information Law request, that 112 "red-flagged" Rikers employees are still currently on the payroll.

In the weeks leading up to yesterday's agreement, Bharaha reportedly expressed frustration that court proceedings were taking so long. "Every day that goes by where we don’t have enforceable and enduring reform at Rikers Island is one day too many," he said.

Brian Sonenstein, an activist and writer for Prison Protest, doubts whether reforms, even those with plenty of city and federal support, will do much to improve conditions for Rikers inmates. "While some of these reforms would certainly be marked improvements on the horrifying status-quo on Rikers Island, the city appears committed to using a wrench where it truly needs a wrecking ball," he said. "Rikers can't be saved."

"Upon what evidence are we to believe the DOC can or will implement these changes faithfully, many of which require serious cultural shifts within the department?" he added, wondering if, rather than invest in new housing units for incarcerated minors, the city might end youth detention altogether.