New York Governor Hochul Announces Release of Rikers Island Inmates

New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Less is More Act and announced the immediate release of 191 Rikers Island prisoners detained on nonviolent technical parole breaches. Hochul signed the bill in response to New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s call for action on what he believes is a crisis at the correctional facility.

According to ABC 7 NY, the measure, which takes effect in March, eliminates minor violations committed by parolees as grounds for re-incarceration, such as being late for an appointment or failing to adhere to a curfew. Mayor de Blasio said that only convicts who do not “pose an immediate threat” would be released, and in certain circumstances, the city will have to go back to court to get them out.

Hochul stated that the state prisons department would begin transferring 200 inmates from the city-run jail to state institutions in the coming days. She described Rikers as “volatile” and claimed that “parole often becomes a ticket back into jail” due to minor infractions such as drinking or skipping an appointment.

Mayor de Blasio praised the move, stating, “she is acting to help us get a number of people out of Rikers immediately. It looks like initially, that could be several hundred people, which could be tremendously helpful. We’ve got to reduce the population the right way.” He also commented on the amount of corrections officers reportedly not showing up for work, saying, “This is a very cynical situation. We know officers have tough jobs. We are doing everything we can to support them. But when officers fake being sick and stay out inappropriately, when they are AWOL, they are hurting all their fellow officers, they are hurting everyone. And the union has not been a productive player. They have been quite counterproductive in all this. We are now laying down very, very tough rules, making clear anyone who is not truly sick, they have to report to work or be suspended for 30 days.”

The signing of the Less is More Act comes after Mayor de Blasio toured Rikers Island and described the conditions as “inhumane” and “torturous,” as the city itself continues its descent into complete chaos. The visit also revealed that many officers were not showing up for assigned shifts and highlighted suicides and suicide attempts occurring inside the prison.

After visiting the facility, de Blasio said, “we need to do some things very, very differently.” Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani and de Blasio immediately called for Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign and implement the Less is More bill. The mayor also devised an emergency Rikers relief plan that calls for accountability for absent staff, expansion of medical evaluation capacity, and faster intake to reduce crowding, among other platitudes.

 

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