One of the early moves by many governors throughout the nation during the pandemic was to release prisoners. After all, prisons are choice locales for a rampaging virus. Social distancing is kind of hard to do when you have several people in a small cell, after all.
Plus, let’s face it, every death in prison was going to be blamed on the governor, so, I get why they did it.
However, unsurprisingly, things happened. In many places, recently released prisoners did what many recently released prisoners tend to do. They went right back to their criminal ways.
Now, NYPD officials are less than thrilled by how they’re still making arrests of prisoners released early for COVID-19.
Hundreds of prisoners released early from Rikers due to COVID concerns are being enabled to re-offend again and again without consequences, law enforcement leaders say.
“We’re continuing to see people get arrested over and over and let right back out. And it really defies common sense,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in an interview with NBC New York.
Of approximately 2,500 defendants sprung from Rikers early because of COVID safety planning, at least 250 have been arrested again since, according to Michael LiPetri, chief of Crime Control Strategies for the NYPD.
Chief LiPetri tells NBC New York the NYPD did not object to releasing older defendants, nor those with underlying medical conditions. But he says the consequences of the larger-scale release of prisoners are now showing up in the arrest data, with those 250 re-offenders being arrested 450 times so far during the pandemic.
In other words, 10 percent have been arrested again. And that’s just so far. As time rolls on, that number may well climb significantly higher.
Further, it seems a number of them have been arrested multiple times since the outbreak. That tells us that not only did they get released once from prison, but they’re also continuing to be released from jail enough that they’re able to get busted again and again after these new arrests. Sure, some of these may stem primarily from just making bail, but these are people who shouldn’t be out on the streets to begin with. Then again, with New York’s bail reform law, they may not have even needed to bother with that.
Honestly, there are questions about many of those who have been released early.
At least one case involved a prisoner released early brutally being a man in Brooklyn. There have been others as well. It makes you wonder just what kind of criteria was being used to determine who to release early and who not to release.
Or, more importantly, whether there were any real criteria followed in the first place.
Regardless, thousands of prisoners who didn’t finish their sentences running around the streets of New York. While some of those are people just wanting to rebuild their lives, many others are going to go right back to what landed them in prison in the first place. That’s going to be a problem because those “professions” tend to also lend themselves well to turning violent on a dime.
Unfortunately, that particular genie is out of the bottle and there’s nothing the NYPD can do about it, especially in light of the current anti-police climate.