In recent weeks, governors and local officials in several states across America have authorized early releases for some of the criminals they held behind bars in an effort to prevent the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus within the prison system.

But along with the spread of the virus in hot spots like New York City has come a return to a life of crime for some of the inmates who were released, as the New York Post reported over the weekend:

At least 50 of the 1,500 inmates cut loose amid fears of the spread of COVID-19 behind bars in recent weeks have already landed back in jail — and in some cases were set free yet again, according to police sources and records.

The re-offenders — just over 3 percent of those released — include a Rikers Island inmate initially jailed for allegedly setting his girlfriend’s door on fire and choking her mother, who was released early only to return to the Bronx apartment and allegedly threaten to kill the whole family.

Another prisoner who is accused of assaulting a Department of Homeless services officer and was later set free was arrested for punching an agency sergeant just two days after his release, records show.

Yet another, who was serving a 60-day sentence for theft, was charged with burglarizing Queens’ Singh Farm grocery store to the tune of more than $9,000 three weeks after his early release.

The paper also noted that most released under “compassionate release” circumstances (like health concerns due to pre-existing conditions, etc.), were in on minor or non-violent offenses, “but some 300 of them face violent felony charges.”

Some of those released, according to the Post, are repeat offenders, one of who has been arrested 5 times since his release on March 27th.

When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about these statistics during his Monday Wuhan Coronavirus press briefing, he expressed shock that criminals who had been “shown mercy” by the system were out committing crimes again:

“I think it’s unconscionable just on a human level that folks were shown mercy and this is what some of them have done,” the mayor said during his morning briefing Monday, which came on the heels of a Post report outlining the issue.

De Blasio said the number of re-offenders remains relatively small and that the city was “buckling down” on monitoring and supervising released prisoners.

“We do see some recidivism. I have not seen a huge amount, but any amount is obviously troubling,” he said.

“We’re going to just keep buckling down on it, making sure there’s close monitoring and supervision to the maximum step possible. And the NYPD is going to keep doing what they’re doing.”

Watch de Blasio answer the recidivism question below:

Between this issue and the state’s bail reforms that went into effect at the first of the year, it’s like the state of New York and New York City proper just don’t have a clue how criminals work.

During the presser, de Blasio noted that the releases were done in order to protect other inmates from an outbreak as well as the corrections officers and staff who work at the facilities. But not mentioned is the toll the Wuhan Coronavirus has had on the NYPD itself, which is now short staffed due to the number of officers who have become infected and in some cases, unfortunately, have died.

I know this is an unprecedented situation but at the same time there had to have been a better way to address the potential of an outbreak of the disease within the prison system without releasing criminals back out into society, where some of them have already gone back to business as usual by victimizing others.

I’m not the expert on this, but there needs to be a better game plan going forward for the prison system to address situations like this.

Your thoughts?

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.