New Yorkers are facing the dual threat of unprecedented public health and economic crises.
It will likely take us months to fully stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and far longer to address the devastating economic fallout.
We must look for savings everywhere we can. Fortunately, there is one source of budget relief staring us in the face: the bail reform law enacted last spring in Albany. A recent report from the Vera Institute of Justice shows that there are millions in savings to be had from reducing the population in our jails.
That’s one of the many compelling reasons why it’s critical we resist any rollbacks to bail reform. Even before the added dangers of COVID-19, locking someone up simply because they were too poor to make bail was inequitable and inhumane. Now, putting more people in jail at a time when the communicable disease unit on Rikers Island is at capacity is dangerous — both to the health and safety of those in custody and the correction officers and Correctional Health Services staff still working in our City jails. And it is also a waste of resources when we are going to need to put every dollar toward helping New Yorkers survive what may be the worst economic downturn we have ever witnessed.