Those get-out-of-jail cards issued by officials who sought to empty cells as the coronavirus began hitting New York City resulted in a return to the justice system for some former inmates who have been rearrested.
The New York Post reported that at least 50 inmates released in recent weeks have been arrested again, with some making pit stops behind bars before being sent back out onto the street.
Overall, according to the Post, about 1,500 inmates have been released.
The Legal Aid Society and Bronx Defenders have been working to spring inmates, claiming that inmates who are older or have medical conditions are more vulnerable to the virus in jail than they would be in the community.
“Our clients who are seriously ill or at a high risk if exposed to the virus should not face a death sentence on Rikers Island before a jury has even had a chance to judge their guilt or innocence, regardless of the charges against them,” Tina Luongo, a Legal Aid Society’s attorney, said.
But the Post found that when the inmates were released, the risk was taken on by the community.
It noted the case of a criminal serving 60 days for theft who was freed only to allegedly commit a burglary at a Queens grocery store three weeks later.
“Obviously, I’m not feeling good about it,” store owner Deepti Khurana said. “You release him early and you leave him open to go and rob more people. No, I’m not completely satisfied with this thing. I’m not getting this.”
“This is outrageous,” an NYPD source said. “Our concern was that, you know, we really didn’t have much of a say at all. They did confer on some, but the majority of releases, we were never conferred with.”
The city’s police commissioner is not opposed to releasing those who might be worse off in prison, but he is concerned with what is taking place.
“Like any good thing, I think people are taking advantage of the situation,” Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Fox 5 “Good Day New York,” according to the Post. “We still need to keep violent criminals in jail.”
Shea said it was not only criminals who are gaming the system.
“There are people that believe no one should be in jail. And some of those very same people that believe that and stated that six months ago or a year ago are now using the compassionate release to advocate for everyone getting out of jail,” Shea said. “I think everyone has to be honest about what’s going on.”
Shea said a little balance and reason would help.
“There has to be a whole equation here that we look at public safety, we look at the offense committed, we look at the individual asking for release,” Shea said. “Advocate groups are now asking for everyone to be released.”
Shea said that releases have led to what he called “some really scary circumstances,” referencing a Rikers Island inmate who was locked up for allegedly setting a woman’s apartment door ablaze and choking her mother, and upon his release allegedly threatened to kill the woman and her family.
Repeat offender Darryl Naser, 25, was rearrested five times in April after being released on March 27, the Post reported.
Naser had been serving time on charges of grand larceny and possession of stolen credit cards, and has since been rearrested on a burglary charge, three drug charges and a charge of third-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Others rearrested face charges that include theft, burglary, forcible touching and assault.
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