NYC considers releasing jail inmates who are at high-risk of vulnerability to COVID-19

Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 19:08:43-04

NEW YORK — Jail inmates at high-risk of vulnerability to coronavirus and incarcerated people with a low risk of offending again may be released from city jails as officials battle the COVID-19 outbreak, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

De Blasio is in discussions with the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice and the NYPD over it. After a Department of Correction investigator died from coronavirus, the president of the correction officers' union said jails are short on the supplies they need to keep staff and inmates safe.

"We're going to evaluate those numbers and the details and determine if case-by-case any of those individuals should be taken out of our jail system," de Blasio said. "We don't have a final decision or final numbers, but that evaluation is happening today."

Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen called the proposal "asinine" and "beyond irresponsible."

"It's very sad that we have to remind the Board of Correction that their mandate, per the city's Charter, is to advocate for the welfare of everyone in the Correction Department, not just the inmates," he said. "Instead of recklessly letting inmates out, call for the city to ramp up its efforts to bring in more masks, gloves, hand sanitzers and other vital supplies for the men and women who must also put their health at risk by showing up to work every day, providing care, custody and control."