Legal Aid Society


As Second Outbreak Hits Local Jails, LAS Urges Release of At-Risk New Yorkers

The Legal Aid Society called on Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, local District Attorney’s offices, correction departments and other relevant government agencies to prioritize the immediate release of New Yorkers especially vulnerable to COVID-19 from local jails amid reports of new data that strongly suggests significant in-jail transmission, reports WNYC/Gothamist.

An analysis by Legal Aid of City COVID-19 reports found that:

  • For months, there have been one or two seemingly isolated reported infections among DOC and CHS staff each week. The new BOC report reveals 31 new staff infections in one week.
  • On November 7, there were only seven housing areas with COVID-19 designations in which 96 people were housed. By November 27, there were 33 COVID-designated units housing 759 people.
  • In just one week, the number of people in exposed housing units more than tripled. The problem has reached nearly all facilities: where previously, the only facilities with COVID-19 designated housing units were MDC, AMKC, and WF, there are now exposures or active infections in MDC, AMKC, VCBC, GRVC, OBCC, RNDC, and WF.
  • CHS reporting shows that reported active infections among people in custody increased exponentially in the last two weeks, from 2 active infections on November 17, to 18 on November 29.

“We are now back at pre-pandemic levels of the population with housing areas that are operating with 30, 40 sometimes more people crowded into a room, sharing the same bathroom, using the same facilities and breathing the same air,” said Mary Lynne Werlwas, Director of the Prisoners’ Rights Project at The Legal Aid Society.