As criminals are being released from New York prisons in order to avoid catching the coronavirus, the victims and families of those impacted by the prisoners’ crimes are raising objections to the widespread and systematic release, as reported by ABC News.
One such case is a prisoner from Rikers Island named Jimmy Rosario, who killed a man in June of 2019. He was subsequently convicted of third-degree assault in October 2019, and sentenced to one year in prison. Rosario is among the prisoners who has since been released due to Rikers becoming vulnerable to the virus.
Subsequently, LaTor Scott, the younger sister of Rosario’s victim Troy Scott, revealed that “nobody contacted us” about Rosario’s early release, and that “the prosecutor on my brother’s case didn’t even know he was getting out.” She herself only found out by looking up Rosario’s information on the inmate website, where she saw that he was classified as released; she and her family now fear encountering Rosario again, since he lives several blocks down the street from them.
Another example is John Bartee, who was convicted of third-degree assault for beating his wife on three different occasions, and was sentenced in November of 2019 to a year at Rikers. Upon his release, the Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark objected to his and other prisoners’ releases, saying that it was his “duty to protect the public, and the victims and survivors who remain vulnerable knowing that many of the individuals who were incarcerated are returning to the community.”
In response to the criticisms, the state’s Department of Corrections has since revised their previous release plan to now include surveillance of released inmates at their homes.
But Scott said that the release of such prisoners was “a double slap in our faces,” adding that “I think it’s kind of crazy that they are doing this without notifying families.”