Mayor Bill DeBlasio of New York City has said he will release approximately 300 inmates currently incarcerated at Rikers Island for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses, in response to the coronavirus. The coronavirus is at the forefront of everyone’s minds now, and this is particularly true of the prison system, where inmates and staff alike are at high risk of exposure to the contagion. However, it isn’t entirely clear how many of these inmates can legally be released, due to complications with state and federal law.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a highly contagious disease that can spread through the air, through contact with contaminated surfaces or contact with an infected person or their bodily fluids. While New York has put a stay-at-home order into effect to try to curtail the spread of the disease, inmates at jails and prisons don’t have the luxury of self-isolating. As a result, they are at an extremely high risk of infection, and even one case of coronavirus at one of these facilities could be catastrophic, especially for older or physically vulnerable inmates.
As a result, Mayor DeBlasio has said he will work to release certain inmates currently detained at Rikers who are serving sentences for nonviolent crimes of one year or less. The targeted inmates are 70 years old or older and have at least one of five medical conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. The Mayor has said he will work with state and federal authorities to release as many inmates as possible, in the hopes of curtailing the impact the coronavirus will have on the population at Rikers.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and work to get the best possible outcome for your matter. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.