Prisons

Last year, 42 people arrested by the NYPD gave their address as the Fresh Meadows facility housing people released from jails and prisons.
In 2015, Andrew Cuomo vowed to overhaul the state’s clemency process, but never followed through. Now, thousands of petitions offer a test of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s commitment to “improving justice.” Here are the stories of three incarcerated men making pitches for freedom.
Self-harm — including suicides — at Rikers Island and other local lockups spiked last summer as COVID-19 ravaged New York, figures obtained by WNYC/Gothamist and THE CITY show. The rate’s climbed to historic levels in the months since.
Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi’s “comprehensive post-pandemic recovery” proposal also covers everything from cutting down on triple shifts for correction officers to fixing broken cell doors.
Following New York’s repeal of 50-a law barring release of uniformed officer personnel records, Department of Correction files show 11 officers were disciplined for at least three confirmed misconduct incidents over an 18-month period.
“All they did was change the name, and slightly, very slightly, changed a few things,” said Melania Brown, whose sister, Layleen Polanco, died in a solitary cell at Rikers Island in 2019.
Carolyn Jones survived the 1996 incident outside a Bedford-Stuyvesant church. But she says she can’t fully heal unless the governor springs David Herion. “I want him home yesterday,” she said.
Hundreds have tested positive for the virus this month, with daily averages about seven-times higher than early December. Meanwhile, advocates — among them Chelsea Clinton — are calling on Gov. Cuomo to get moving on inoculations.
Despite the governor’s promise of a progressive overhaul of the clemency process, very few people have made the cut. Cuomo’s 24 commutations in his term don’t match the pace of his father. Meanwhile, the pandemic has upped the stakes.
The state has sprung thousands of nonviolent offenders from lockups due to the pandemic. But many who are eligible for a head start on freedom remain held, Legal Aid reports.
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