Over 250 Released Early from Rikers Arrested Again

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The Rikers Island jail complex in New York City has experience large spikes in coronavirus infections . Photo by David Oppenheimer via Flickr

Of approximately 2,500 defendants released from Rikers early because of COVID safety concerns, at least 250 have been arrested again since, according to Michael LiPetri, chief of Crime Control Strategies for the New York Police Department (NYPD), reports NBC News.

The NYPD did not object to releasing older defendants, nor those with underlying medical conditions, LiPetri said.

But he add that “the consequences of the larger-scale release of prisoners are now showing up in the arrest data, with those 250 re-offenders being arrested 450 times so far during the pandemic,” reported NBC.

One man, Jonathan Martinez, has already been arrested three times since his March 16 release.

“At the time, Martinez was being held on six charges, ranging from petty larceny to forced touching,” Newsweek reported. “He had previously been convicted on strangulation in 2014 for an incident involving his girlfriend.”

Rikers Island has shown a high infection rate since the early days of the pandemic and it has continued. COVID-19 figures from mid-May showed a 2 percent rate of infection for all New York City residents and a 1.6 percent rate in New York State, but among the prisons and jails that were releasing data, Rikers Island then stated a 9.6 percent “positive” rate, according to an earlier story in The Crime Report.

According to The Legal Aid Society, as of June 5, the COVID-19 infection rate in all Department of Corrections Facilities in New York City is estimated at 8.5 percent. The rate of infection for Department of Corrections staff is 12 percent.

“COVID-19 is spreading rapidly at Rikers Island and other local jails, endangering our clients, correction staff and all of New York City,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society in a statement.

“Based on this analysis, New York City jails have become the epicenter of COVID-19. It is imperative that Albany, City Hall, our local District Attorneys and the NYPD take swift and bold action to mitigate the spread of this deadly virus. Stop sending people to Rikers and let these New Yorkers out immediately. Anything else is too little, too late.”

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