New York City is considering releasing some inmates from city jails who may be susceptible to the coronavirus.

At a City Hall press conference Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the questions about inmates were “fair and important."

"We are evaluating right now, working with the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice and the NYPD, the number of people in our jail system who might be particularly high-risk in terms of vulnerability to the virus and another category of people, those that are incarcerated and at low-risk of re-offending,” the mayor said. “We're going to evaluate those numbers and determine, case by case, if any of those individuals should be taken out of our jail system. We don’t have a final decision or a final number, but that evaluation is happening today.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice told NY1 it was unclear what approval the city might need to release inmates early. A source at the Legal Aid Society, which has been pushing for inmates’ release, told NY1 the fastest option to get inmates off of Rikers Island early would be to get approval from local prosecutors.

According to Correction Health Services, which administers health care at city jails, there have been 20 COVID-19 tests administered to inmates. So far, there has not been a positive case.

Earlier Tuesday, the Board of Correction initially asked for the removal of vulnerable inmates from city jails.



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