The surprise is that anyone would be surprised that inmates released from prisons and jails might use their second chance to commit more crimes, a New York state sheriff said Wednesday.
Across the nation, about 16,000 inmates have been sprung from confinement due to the impact of the coronavirus, Fox News has reported.
Often, inmates were released amid concerns that they were more vulnerable to the virus behind bars than on the street.
In New York City, about 1,500 jail inmates were freed, with some already having made a return trip to jail after committing new crimes. For the most part, jail inmates are awaiting trial and have not yet been convicted, while prison inmates are serving out sentences after being found guilty.
During an appearance on the Fox News morning show “Fox and Friends,” Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. of Suffolk County, which covers the eastern half of Long Island, predicted the situation will get even worse.
“I can tell you, as the weather gets warmer and as the government eases restrictions, we’re going to see the ripple effect nationwide of almost 16,000 people that have been released from our custody,” Toulon said.
“We’re going to have some issues in our streets.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said the city is trying to keep track of inmates it let go free, and scolded formerly jailed inmates who broke the law upon release.
“I think it’s unconscionable just on a human level that folks were shown mercy and this is what some of them have done,” de Blasio said Monday. “We’re going to keep, just buckling down on it, making sure there is close monitoring and supervision to the maximum extent possible and the NYPD is going to keep doing what they’re doing.”
Toulon said Wednesday it was “a little surprising that he did admit that it is a mistake to release and even look at some of these individuals.”
With hundreds of New York City Police Department officers having tested positive for the coronavirus, Toulon said keeping track of those released inmates is easier said than done.
He pointed out that “1,500 individuals that have been released from the New York City Department of Correction is really a difficult task to try to monitor them.”
“Think about what the police department is going through with the amount of individuals that are quarantined right now, their staff that have been diagnosed with COVID-19, then going out into the community to try and keep crime down in New York City,” Toulon said.
Toulon said law enforcement officers are also battling anti-police sentiment that has infected the city.
“We’ve seen last year New York City police officers being doused with water,” Toulon said.
“We saw recently in a couple of videos of New York City police officers attempting to make an arrest on a street where one officer was punched from behind and as the individual was fleeing down the street, people in the street are yelling, ‘run, run, run.’”
“We saw a New York City police officer down in the transit by the trains being kicked three times and on the third kick she was actually propelled onto the tracks,” he said.
The surprise, according to Toulon, is that anyone is surprised,
“I don’t understand why people are surprised by this. We all knew this,” he said.
Toulon battled to prevent the release of 100 Suffolk County jail inmates.
He claimed that freeing inmates with problems such as substance abuse and mental illness would put them at a higher risk than keeping them in jail.
“These men and women will then be returned back to the street without the proper health to really monitor them and then assist them in the issues that they’re facing,” he said during a previous appearance on “Fox & Friends.”
“If you put them out in the street with the pandemic issues that we’re currently facing, they will then have an opportunity to contract the virus,” he said.
Toulon has also been an outspoken critic of New York state’s so-called bail reform, which required defendants who formerly were locked up after being charged with certain crimes to be released on their own recognizance.
“Releasing repeat recidivists, violent individuals, and those with substance abuse and mental health problems immediately back into communities following an arrest poses significant public safety risks for innocent victims,” he said earlier this year, according to Patch.
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