Legal Aid Society


LAS Expresses Outrage Over Death of Client Held on Techncial Violation at Rikers

An inmate jailed in Riker’s Island who contracted COVID-19 there has succumbed while receiving treatment in Bellevue Hospital over the weekend, brutally substantiating the concerns of defender organizations throughout New York City who have called on the state government to release low-level and technical offenders from custody in order to save as many lives as possible, reports THE CITY.

Michael Tyson of The Bronx, 53, had been in custody since February 28th awaiting a hearing on a parole violation. His name was among the 100 detainees held for parole violations that The Legal Aid Society had sued to have released. For weeks prisoner’s rights advocates have warned of the deadly potential consequences of continuing business-as-usual in the cramped, unsanitary conditions of city jails, who have struggled to stem the spread of the infection among both staff and inmate populations.

“We are both heartbroken and outraged to learn that our client, who was held on Rikers Island for a technical parole violation, has passed away from COVID-19,” said Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at Legal Aid.

“It is time for the governor to employ the full breadth of those powers and to act without delay to avoid further catastrophe,” she continued. “DOCCS’ myopic over-reliance on re-incarceration, wholly unjustifiable at any time, is utterly disastrous in the era of COVID-19.”