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LatinoJustice Statement on the Release of Prisoners From Rikers 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 20, 2021

Press contacts:
Sarai Bejarano Manager of Traditional & Digital Media [email protected] 212-739-7581

 

LatinoJustice Statement on the Release of Prisoners From Rikers 

New York, NY-  On Friday, September 17th, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Less Is More Act, which will decrease the number of people being re-incarcerated for technical parole violations. Below is a statement by Andrew Case, LatinoJustice Senior Counsel on the matter.

“In sponsoring and signing, respectively, the Less is More Act to decrease the number of people being reincarcerated for technical parole violations, NY Lieutenant Governor Benjamin and Governor Hochul undertook small but critical first steps to address a full-blown humanitarian crisis.  Ordering the immediate release of 191 individuals from Rikers who have served their sentences and agreeing to move into state custody some of those currently incarcerated at Rikers further reveals Gov. Hochul’s commitment to alleviate the dire situation at Rikers, but it is not nearly enough.

 New York City has neglected Rikers for decades: the physical plant is crumbling and conditions are intolerable for those incarcerated, as well as for corrections officers working in unsafe conditions. Sickouts and double and triple-shifts are endemic, leading to even more dangerous conditions for incarcerated people. Ten people have died in Rikers this year, five of them confirmed suicides. Commissioner Schiraldi’s efforts at reform are insufficient to address problems that long predate his tenure and cannot be solved with the tools the city is offering.

LatinoJustice has long been a steadfast supporter of the closure of Rikers Island. Our former president and general counsel, Juan Cartagena, served on the Lippman Commission, which issued the report that led to the current plan to close Rikers for good. The current situation demonstrates the importance of completing the plan to close Rikers. Reducing the incarcerated population is of paramount importance and must be top priority.

LatinoJustice calls on district attorneys’ offices and criminal court judges to consider the horrific conditions in Rikers when seeking or ordering pretrial detention. Esais Johnson died at Rikers while being held on $1 bail for a misdemeanor.  Segundo Guallpa and Brandon Rodriguez likewise died while being held pretrial on misdemeanor charges. More guards will not increase safety at Rikers, nor will NYPD officers help the situation, as Mayor De Blasio has suggested. The only way to improve conditions is to reduce the population. Those who were released by Governor Hochul’s actions represent a first, critical step but others must swiftly follow. Pre-trial detention should not be a death sentence and we cannot continue to look away from the horrors of Riker’s Island.” 

 

 

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About LatinoJustice
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org