According to CNN, “The Legal Aid Society won the release of 51 individuals currently held at Rikers Island on non-criminal technical parole violations due to their age or underlying medical conditions, according to an order and a press release provided by Legal Aid.”
The newly released prisoners are accused of missing a curfew, failing to report, or failing to notify their parole officer of an address change among other things, the press release said. The orders bring the total number of people released through Legal Aid’s coronavirus-related filings above 210, the organization announced.
The suit, filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Bronx County, is the fourth complaint filed by Legal Aid.
In the Monday order, Justice Ralph Fabrizio wrote, “The seriousness of this health crisis in terms of this writ was tragically and dramatically demonstrated even before the parties appeared for their virtual court appearance at 9:30 a.m. on April 8, 2020,” when a local paper reported a detainee had died as a result of Covid-19 complications.
“We applaud today’s ruling which will free more of our vulnerable clients held in custody on non-criminal technical parole violations from Rikers Island, the epicenter of Covid-19,” said Corey Stoughton, Attorney-in-Charge of the Special Litigation Unit with the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “If not for Governor Cuomo’s lack of action and leadership, these New Yorkers should have been released weeks ago back to their families and communities. As long as Governor Cuomo and others in government continue to mishandle this unfolding humanitarian crisis at our jails and prisons, we will fervently utilize the court and litigate to secure our clients’ freedom.”
Last week, Cuomo’s office told The New York Times the state has been moving to release non-violent inmates who are at greater risk of contracting coronavirus.