Photo: Andrés Correa Guatarasma / Courtesy
Dozens of dangerous inmates serving time on Rikers Island to be released prematurely as part of an attempt by Mayor Bill de Blasio to address the shortage of corrections officers willing to work there, alerted New York Post.
It would be the second wave of convicted criminals granted early release since last year on Rikers Island, when officials used the COVID-19 pandemic to justify returning around 180 inmates to the streets.
Those first inmates were among the more than 1,500 who were released last year due to the crisis of coronavirus, which reduced the city’s prison population to 4,363 inmates, a level not seen for more than 70 years.
Ironically and unsurprisingly, the prison guard shortage comes as the city is experiencing an increase in shootings and serious assaults that helped increase the average daily prison population by 5,730 inmates in July, its highest level in more than a year, according to the latest statistics from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).
Another alarming report from DCJS warns that NYC district attorneys last year refused to prosecute detainees at nearly double the 2019 rate, leaving 6,522 suspects out of judgement. In total, public prosecutors dropped all charges in 16.9% of the 38,635 felony cases that were closed in New York City during 2020.
The second batch of convict releases was scheduled to begin last Thursday, but was delayed when deadly Storm Ida hit the region. “The mayor wants to close Rikers and will take any opportunity to free the prisoners,” said an anonymous source. De Blasio “He is leaving in just over three months and he wants to free as many prisoners as he can.”
“Only the worst criminals are left in jail: people with firearm arrests, shootings, sex crimes, etc. Nobody for shoplifting, “criticized the source. At the moment, officials keep the number and names of those scheduled for their early release very well kept because De Blasio “does not want the rejection he received the last time when he released dangerous criminals”.
Last week the mayor blamed the growing violence in NYC on the lack of trials carried out by the state judicial system, paralyzed by the coronavirus, stating that in total only 18 criminal verdicts were handed down in the first half of this year. The number is staggeringly low compared to 405 sentences during the same run-up to the pandemic, in 2019.
In the recent past, various factors that analysts, union leaders, politicians and the citizens themselves have linked to the rise of violence Are the controversial bail reforms in NY state in force since January 2020 with the support of then-Governor Andrew Cuomo; the massive liberation of prisoners to avoid contagion by the coronavirus; the mental health crisis with more homelessness on the streets and the Metro; and the reduction of funds to the police promoted by De Blasio himself.
For months De Blasio and then-Governor Cuomo blamed each other for the increase in crime in the city, and the mayor pointed the finger at the state-controlled judicial system. Meanwhile, Cuomo attributed the “devastating” crime wave to anti-police sentiment and the mayor’s decision to release Rikers Island inmates during the pandemic. The new governor, Kathy Hochul, has not commented on the matter.
This past Labor Day long weekend, the city once again experienced a crime wave, especially for armed violence, even in broad daylight: 8 people were shot on Friday, 9 on Saturday and 13 on Sunday. There are 1,305 bullet victims in 1,086 incidents in NYC so far this year.
“There are only the worst kind criminals left in jail—people with gun arrests, shootings, sex crimes, etc. No one is in for shoplifting.”
NYC’s crime victims are again being neglected, as well as the work of Detectives that put these criminals behind bars.https://t.co/5MCNJXabHd
— Detectives’ Endowment Association (@NYCPDDEA) September 7, 2021
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.