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LAS Echoes Board of Correction’s Call to Release More Incarcerated New Yorkers Immediately

The Legal Aid Society today echoed the New York City Board of Correction’s (BOC) call demanding the immediate release of vulnerable New Yorkers at a high risk for COVID-19 from custody to halt the health crisis swamping the City jails, as reported in the New York Post.

In a letter sent to New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the New York City Department of Correction (DOC), and New York City’s five District Attorneys, the oversight agency persuasively argues that the jail and health authorities “best efforts will not be enough to prevent viral transmission in the jails. Their work must be supplemented by bold and urgent action from the City’s District Attorneys, New York State judges, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and DOC’s utilization of its executive release authority.”

BOC also urged the recipients to “follow your colleagues in Los Angeles County (CA), San Francisco (CA), Cook County (IL), Autauga County (AL), Augusta County (VA), Allegheny County (PA), Hamilton County (OH), Harris County (TX), Travis County (TX), and Cuyahoga County (OH), and take action now to release people from City jails.”

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the local jails continues to climb. BOC confirmed 38 COVID-19 cases among the jail population and staff. Another 58 individuals are currently being monitored for symptoms in the contagious and quarantine units.

“Shared dorms and bathrooms are the opposite of social distancing, and the situation at Rikers Island will only get worse so long as our leaders in government refuse to act,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society.