Coronavirus Prompts 300 Inmates To Be Released From New York City’s Rikers Island

Looking down a deserted aisle lined on both sides with two levels of prison cells.  Slight grain adds to the gritty atmosphere.

Coronavirus Prompts 300 Inmates To Be Released From New York City’s Rikers Island

Only nonviolent offenders will be able to leave early.

Published March 25th

Written by BET Staff

The coronavirus continues to quickly spread across the country and incarcerated populations are also being affected. As of March 23, “at least 39 prisoners and 21 staff at Rikers Island have tested positive” for the coronavirus, according to Democracy Now. Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for the release of 300 inmates from New York City’s notorious Rikers Island.

Related: Georgia Mother And Children Remain Trapped In Their China Apartment Over Coronavirus Fears

According to CNBC, only nonviolent inmates will be released. However, this does not include anyone who is serving time for domestic violence or sexual assault. The outlet also reports de Blasio wants those who are over age 70 or have the five preexisting health conditions that make them most vulnerable to the coronavirus to also be released. These include heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases like asthma and pulmonary hypertension,diabetes, depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the authority to release everyone in that category.

Rikers Island currently houses 5,000 inmates. No word on when the selected inmates will be released. 

According to The New York Times, over 53,400 people in the United States are infected with the coronavirus and over 740 have died.  

For the latest on the coronavirus, contact your local health department and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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