NYC Jails Have Not Been This Empty Since 1946


Image credit to Robert Brinkley Jr.. Image modified from original.

If you have been following New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s actions and words, you would know that he is someone who does only what he thinks, regardless of what others feel about the same. It is because of this that many times in the recent past, people have reacted harshly to his decisions, especially the ones he took while handling the COVID-19 pandemic in NYC.

The crime rate and the number of retiring cops are continuously on the rise in New York City. However, nothing seems to have ruffled Bill de Blasio’s feathers. Recently, people were surprised when he told in his speech that the jail population in NYC is the lowest since World War II. He also added that the city is safe and better than those days, though!

People are still wondering which weird statistical data Bill followed to have made this speech! That’s because, as per the latest statistics, the number of shooting cases in 2020 in NYC alone stands at a whopping 634, whereas last year, the numbers were only 294 for the same period. The murder rate for 2020 has witnessed a 23% increase when compared to last year. So, people are left reeling under the thought of what “safety” and “betterment” that Bill de Blasio was talking about!

Even the crime statistics of the New York Police Department states that the city has experienced a lot of criminal cases, including shootouts, burglaries and murders in 2020.  While the shooting cases itself have reported a 61% jump from last year, the number of shooting victims has gone by a massive 70%. While the entire world has a different viewpoint on the current crime rates in NYC, the mayor seems to think otherwise!

During March 2020, Bill de Blasio was again in the news because he decided to release over 300 prisoners from the largest jail complex in NYC, Rikers Island.  Blasio took this decision as the prisoners released were highly prone to contacting the COVID-19 virus. He also explained that he released that he decided to release the prisoners based on three conditions. They were:

  • Prisoners should be above 70 years of age
  • They should have been convicted for non-violent offenses
  • They should have less than one year of the sentence left

Based on these conditions, he released almost 1/3rd of the 1000 inmates of the Rikers Island Jail Complex in NYC. According to Bill, the reduced population in the jails helped to control the spread of the pandemic and also improve social distancing within the jail. He was heavily criticized for this decision, especially, when he had decided to keep the schools open in the city, despite the school staff members testing positive for COVID 19.

Setting the prisoners free may have been Bill’s way of apology for keeping the schools open; however, the residents of NYC had to pay a heavy price indeed, with the prisoners looming free in the city. With a large number of cops retiring in the city and the no-bail policy prevalent in the city, it wasn’t surprising to note that the city could only be a mute spectator to the rising criminal incidents.

The Police Commissioner of NYC, Dermot Shea isn’t comfortable about the way Bill has been handling the jail population for controlling the pandemic. Naturally, he doesn’t have much say in the process, even though he believes that the rising crime rates are hurting the non-whites more in the city.

Yes, Bill may be right in telling that the jails of NYC have had the lowest inmates since World War II, but that does that mean that there are fewer victims in the city right now? Definitely, not! If anything, the number of victims is only on the rise today.

After announcing many other measures like converting hotel rooms as quarantine centers for sick New Yorkers, Bill de Blasio stated that he agrees with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statement that the worst was over for NYC, as far as the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned. One can only wait and watch if the worst is actually over for NYC, as the city gears up for its final stage of Phase 4 reopening.

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