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LAS, Elected Officials Urge DAs to Stop Requesting High Bail During Rikers Crisis

The Legal Aid Society, together with a coalition of public defenders and elected officials, is urging district attorneys across the five boroughs to stop seeking high bail in light of the dire circumstances in City jails, as reported by the New York Daily News.

In addition to the increasing spread of COVID-19, a mass wave of staff absenteeism has compounded long-standing problems to create an extraordinarily dangerous environment for people who are incarcerated, particularly on Rikers Island. At least twelve people have died in Department of Correction custody this year already.

In a letter to the five DAs, advocates called out the unconscionable decision to seek high bail, which results in more New Yorkers being jailed unnecessarily.

“Throughout the year, a rising jail population has led to the steady degradation of the conditions at Rikers,” their letter reads in part. “There is no doubt that the driving cause behind it remains the decision of your offices to seek bail recklessly and in virtually every eligible case. Those decisions now leave thousands of poor New Yorkers—mostly Black and Brown—to endure torture every day.”