New York City has released almost all its inmates arrested on gun charges this year, which police say has led to the city’s soaring rates of gun crime.
Of 3,793 people arrested and charged with gun-related offenses between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 3,345, or 88% of those arrested, have been set loose, according to New York City Police Department data reviewed by the New York Post. Police told the Post that about 450 of all those arrested on gun crimes this year remain locked up.
While some of the inmates were released after posting bail, the majority of them were set loose because of a new law that went into effect on Jan. 1 that barred judges from setting bail on a host of offenses deemed “non-violent.” In addition, many more prisoners have been set free due to COVID-19 concerns inside the lockups.
“We have made staggering numbers of gun arrests, taking guns off the streets from felons … but when you look, three days later, four days later, those individuals are back on the street committing more gun violence,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Tuesday, announcing that the current pace of shootings in New York City is on track to hit a 14-year high by the end of 2020.
According to the Post, 247 people arrested for gun crimes this year were picked up again on new charges within 60 days of their first arrest. Of those, only 32 are still jailed.
Near the start of the breakout of the pandemic, New York City’s top prosecutors signed a joint letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Department of Correction commissioner, Cynthia Brann, warning that proposed pandemic protections for inmates would result in the release of “high risk” criminals. As The Daily Wire reported:
“We fully appreciate the unique risks that the COVID-19 virus poses in our jails,” the prosecutors wrote. “At the same time, we want to make clear that the categories of those proposed for release have, in some instances, included individuals who pose a high risk to public safety.”
The prosecutors said that the mayor and Correction commissioner are overseeing a “haphazard process” that could result in numerous, violent criminals being released from jail, risking the safety of the public and the criminals’ past victims, especially. The prosecutors also said that their previous warnings about the situation had been ignored.
“We have communicated our concerns, but these concerns have not always been heeded. As an example, when we learned last week that the Commissioner of Corrections was about to use her authority to order an across-the-board release of hundreds of inmates serving city sentences, we were assured that the release would not include those serving time for domestic violence or sex offenses, given the risks to victims,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, we later learned that such individuals were indeed included in the ranks of those to be released.”