Even before New York City jails showed a rate of COVID19 infection 10 times the rest of the City, they were in a state of crisis. The Department of Corrections has long failed to keep people safe while in its custody, and layers of excessively punitive laws, policies and practices have meant thousands of people remain in City jails despite a decline in the jail population.
The spread of coronavirus has heightened the crisis, and the need for immediate action in service of human rights. Advocates, public health experts, and the Board of Correction have called for the immediate release of thousands of people – starting with people over 50, people with underlying health conditions, people detained for administrative reasons, and people serving City sentences. These categories amount to over 2,000 people — but to date, only about 1,000 people have been released. Notably, these are groups of people whom the City is already seeking to divert from jails in the future, as part of the commitment to reduce the NYC jail population to less than 3,300 people that was embedded in the plan for closing Rikers that passed last fall.
At this moment, we need Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and District Attorneys to expedite the release of the remaining people in custody to reduce the fatal impacts of this international public health crisis.
Here's How You Can Take Action:
Email the District Attorney for your borough to urge for the release of people being held pre-trial.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark – firstname.lastname@example.org
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance – email@example.com
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez – firstname.lastname@example.org
Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon – email@example.com
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz – firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of the Governor: 518-474-8390
“My name is_____________. I’m a New Yorker, and I urge you to immediately stop incarcerating people for non-criminal technical parole violations, and lift all parole warrants, to free people whose lives are at risk from COVID-19 on Rikers and in jails and prisons across the state.”
Emma Wolfe, Chief of Staff @ NYC Mayor’s Office: 212-788-2162
“My name is_____________. I’m a New Yorker, and I urge you to continue releasing people serving city sentences, and ensure adequate cleaning and healthcare in jails to keep incarcerated people safe.”
“My name is_____________. I live in ________ and I urge you to consent to the release of vulnerable people, and use your power to push for the release of people being held pre-trial, using the least restrictive means of ensuring they return to court.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark: (718) 590-2000
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance: (212) 335-9000
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez: (718) 250-2202
Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon: (718) 876-6300
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz: (718) 286-6300