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City to Release 300 More Inmates from Rikers; Queens DA Recommends 30 for Release

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March 26, 2020 By Allie Griffin

New York City will release 300 more inmates from Rikers Island amid fears of the coronavirus spreading across the sprawling jail facility.

The move comes after the mayor announced last week that 40 inmates from Rikers Island were set to be released on Friday. On Sunday he announced a further 23 prisoners from the city’s jail system were to be let out.

The 300 inmates are serving a sentence of under one year for misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies — other than domestic violence or sexual assault crimes — Mayor Bill de Blasio said at City Hall Tuesday.

Some have several months left on their sentence, while others have only a few weeks– and the city is working to release them as soon as possible, he said.

“We will move to release those 300 inmates immediately,” de Blasio said, adding that the release process may take a few days.

De Blasio also hopes to see whether another 800 inmates could be released, but doesn’t have the authority to make that call. He would need different district attorneys or the state to sign off on their release, he said.

He said that 100 of the 800 for potential release require the approval of a district attorney, while the other 700 are in jail for technical parole violations that the State of New York has to give sign off on.

These 800 are either old or have medical conditions making them particularly vulnerable should they contract COVID-19. De Blasio wants inmates fitting this criteria to be released.

He said that he is currently working with the district attorneys and the state to make this happen.

“We’re all working together, but they have to make their own decisions,” he said. “But I’m going to argue to everyone that those categories at this moment need to be acted on.”

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz was quick to answer de Blasio’s call.

On Wednesday she announced that her office had identified 30 inmates who could be released from Rikers Island.

The group of defendants were identified by a panel of nearly a dozen prosecutors who took into consideration each defendant’s age, criminal history, the remaining time left in their sentence and their health condition, Katz said.

“Over the past few days, a panel of nearly a dozen prosecutors, has been working tirelessly to identify defendants, who in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the interest of justice, should be released from Rikers Island,” the Katz said in a statement.

The panel has also reached out to the victims of the crimes committed by these defendants to consider their positions in making recommendations before a final decision is made.

There are over 5,000 inmates in New York City’s jail system and as of Wednesday morning, 75 have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the New York Daily News.

The rate of infection at city jails is more than seven times the rate of infection in New York City overall, the Daily News reported, citing a Legal Aid Society report.

A group of 28 council members including Queens Council Member Robert Holden and the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association have called on the mayor to establish a COVID-19 testing facility on Rikers Island to ensure the safety of correction officers, employees and inmates on the campus.

The council members penned a letter to de Blasio yesterday asking for the establishment of a testing facility as well as a screening station to evaluate everyone for potential symptoms of the coronavirus as they enter the island.

“Our correction officers put their health on the line each and every day, and they alone bear the burden of unknowingly spreading this highly contagious virus to their colleagues or inmates,” Holden said.

“They can also spread the virus in their home communities when they leave Rikers Island each day. We must provide them with reassurance by working to test every officer as soon as possible and ensure their safety, the safety of other employees, the safety of inmates, and the safety of all New Yorkers.”

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Good evening
I’m one of the wife’s that my husband is on RIKERS ISLAND MY HUSBAND IS N HE’S 55 YEARS old with some serious health issues he suffered from diabetes and asthma and also seizure he has been on Rikers Island every seance Feb 28 2018 he’s more likely to contract the virus during his medical condition he’s also waiting for trial but it was perspone due to this crisis virus the reason why I’m asking is because it was said in the paper that ppl with serious condition will b released like I’m praying for my husband is one of them his name is TALBERT is housed in AMKC he already did three year now including this year will make three years I’m a sick wife with bad heart disease and suffer with seizure also asthma he’s all I have and I’m all that he has God bless me with a one big bedroom apartment so my husband will have a place to come home to please take this time out to give it some thought I’m also a missionary thank u I appreciate it may God bless you also stay safe…

I agree, Trump pardons criminals just because they're his friends

Uh, Trump has pardoned LOTS of felons. You’ve seriously never heard of Kerik, Blagojevich, Michael Milken? He’s released HOW many felons now? There’s more every year.


@Dave- Yeah, He’s acting like Trump. Trump pardons friends DeBlasio pardons Street thugs.

Crime pays

I thought jail was supposed to be a deterrent. Now if you get arrested, released r.o.r, no bail. And if you do get stuck there, it’s let him out there’s a virus!!!. It’s jail, not the plaza. If you break the law, you should go to jail and not get out because of a virus. Tough! Maybe next time you will think twice before you break the law ?


Ankle monitors so they stay home, and then call them back when this thing is over.
Makes no sense to release inmates, they are isolated. Test them, move the sick ones out, done. Keep criminals where they belong.

Resident of NYC

Got idea for these newly released inmates go help out the hospitals doing cleaning work and put yourself in doing service for city and not being idle to do devils work


Are they testing them before they release them? I think many will end up on the streets or city shelters. I doubt they will self quarantine for 14 days like people are being asked to do if someone you know has tested positive in a confined area. But yet the mayor finds it ok to leave the playgrounds open.


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