GOP lawmaker requests information on release of inmates in New York

GOP lawmaker requests information on release of inmates in New York
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Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceOvernight Energy: Biden campaign says he would revoke Keystone XL permit | EPA emails reveal talks between Trump officials, chemical group before 2017 settlement | Tensions emerge on Natural Resources panel over virtual meetings Tensions emerge on Natural Resources panel over virtual meetings House conservatives voice concerns over minority rights during remote hearings MORE (Ga.), the top Republican on the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, is calling for information on how New York City plans to ensure citizens are protected upon the release of inmates in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a letter sent to New York City's Department of Corrections Commissioner Cynthia Brann, Hice asked whether releasing inmates into the city could present safety and health risks. 

“The purpose of this letter is to understand how the Department plans to execute this release and what mitigation efforts are in place to ensure public health and safety," Hice wrote.

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New York Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioDemonstrations rage across the country Overnight Health Care: Trump says US 'terminating' relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Khanna says President Trump threatening violence against US citizens; Trump terminating relationship with WHO MORE (D) announced plans to release 300 nonviolent, elderly inmates from Rikers Island over concerns the close quarters seen in jails and prisons could create a hot spot for the deadly virus to spread.

De Blasio asserted that violent criminals would not be eligible for release.

Hice in his letter wrote that some inmates being released might have been exposed to the virus in prison and been asymptomatic, but might carry the virus "and possibly transfer it to others in what is the most highly populated area of the country.” 

Hice said law enforcement officials face a “unique risk of contracting” the virus, and notated that 5,199 offers or about 15 percent of New York's force were out sick as of March 30. 

“Increasing the number of convicted criminals on the streets — some of whom may even be carriers of the virus —while there is a significant reduction in law enforcement capacity is likely a recipe for disaster. This is not a theoretical problem,” said Hice, the ranking member of the subpanel that oversees the management of government operations and activities and intergovernmental affairs, including with state and local governments. 

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Hice mentioned one case of a person released in Utah as part of that state's response to the coronavirus who allegedly committed a violent crime after his release.

Two days after his release, the man allegedly "tied up the homeowner, and threatened to ‘cut her head off’ if she didn’t stop screaming and give him all her cash, credit cards, and PIN numbers,” Hice wrote.

Hice went on to note that prosecutors from the different New York boroughs have raised similar concerns. 

In a joint letter sent to de Blasio on Monday, the DAs from Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island raised concerns over the process in which inmates are selected for release, arguing it doesn’t do enough to prevent violent criminals from being released. 

“At this point, the seemingly haphazard process by which at-risk inmates are identified, and the reports that those released may include violent offenders, are creating a public perception that our city’s jails may be incapable of providing sufficient health care for the remaining population of inmates,” the letter, obtained by The New York Post, says.