Emergency release will minimize the number of people in jail and staff needed on-site during public health crisis. Fewer people in the jails will prevent transmission. Release must prioritize people at higher risk from infection.
The New York City Board of Correction, the independent oversight Board for the City’s jail system, is calling on the City to work with all its criminal justice partners to: (1) immediately remove from jail all people at higher risk from COVID-19 infection; and (2) rapidly decrease the jail population. While Department of Correction (DOC) and Correctional Health Services (CHS) staff continue to perform heroic work to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the jails and maintain safe and humane operations, the City must drastically reduce the number of people in jail right now and limit new admissions to exceptional circumstances. The City can follow the leads of Los Angeles County and Cuyahoga County (Ohio) which have already begun to release people to minimize a potential outbreak. The City must begin this process now. The City’s jails have particular challenges to preventing disease transmission on a normal day and even more so during a public health crisis.