New York City police have arrested again dozens of inmates released from jail over the coronavirus.
At least 50 of 1,500 inmates released from lockup over concerns that the virus could spread quickly within a jail have been rearrested, according to the New York Post. Some of the inmates recaptured have been released again under the city’s program to decrease jail populations during the pandemic.
In one instance, police arrested 40-year-old James Little on April 7 for attempting to rob a bank. Little’s arrest happened just over a week after he was released from Rikers Island where he was being held after assaulting his girlfriend. Little’s criminal record also includes a 1995 murder for which he served over two decades behind bars.
Little was later connected to two other bank robberies that took place after his release. Police believe he made away with $1,000 from each.
Last month, 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 of just such an outcome. The district attorneys for the city’s five boroughs and special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan said that de Blasio, in an attempt to protect inmates from the coronavirus, was proposing to release “high risk” criminals.
“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.”
De Blasio has proposed releasing hundreds of inmates from New York City jails, including from Rikers Island. Hundreds of prisoners and staff have contracted the coronavirus at the Rikers compound, and health experts and justice system officials fear that the spread of the virus could overtax the jail’s medical system and put inmates lives in unnecessary danger.
As The Daily Wire reported on March 31:
Rikers Island poses a unique situation for New York City. The jail is decrepit and conditions there have concerned human rights organizations, even when a deadly pandemic is not sweeping across the country. Earlier in the week, the Washington Post reported that some doctors fear Rikers Island could become a “public health crisis,” particularly given that coronavirus is known to spread quickly in closed quarters.