Criminal justice reform advocates call for release of people in Rikers and Sing Sing

April 9, 2020


April 08, 2020Contact:

Loretta Kane (917-410-7242 or

Michael Paul Jackson (646-397-8069 or

Criminal justice reform advocates call for release of people in Rikers and Sing Sing

Statement of JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins

NEW YORK — In the past several days, two incarcerated people have died after becoming ill with COVID-19. One person was being held on Rikers Island the other had been incarcerated in Sing Sing. JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins issued the following statement in response:

“Keeping people in prisons or jails as the coronavirus decimates New York recklessly disregards their safety and willfully puts people at risk of death. The governor and the mayor must act immediately to release people from jail and prison — especially those being detained pretrial.

“Mayor de Blasio must not stand by while incarcerated people in Rikers are put directly in harm’s way simply because they couldn’t afford bail. What’s more, those who are being held on technical violations and elderly who are at higher risk must also be released. It is unconscionable to give someone a death sentence just because they don’t have the means to make bail or because of some technicality.

“Likewise, Gov. Cuomo should release incarcerated people from state prisons to reduce the risk of infection to those who are detained or employed behind bars. The prison population must be reduced as low as possible to help flatten the curve and protect lives.

“Prisons and jails are breeding grounds for diseases. Crowding and public toilets make it impossible to implement the kind of social distancing necessary to stop the spread of this virus. Inadequate medical care means that incarcerated people who fall ill will not receive the care they need. Nobody should pay with their life because the governor and the mayor lack the moral conviction and leadership to release people from confinement. To them we say, allow incarcerated people to stay safe by sending them home now!”


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