We’re not even talking prison here, which at least in theory rehabilitates convicts by teaching them a profession. We’re talking jail, where inmates do nothing other than vegetate as they await the next step in the adjudication of their crime.
Yet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is aghast that some of the 1,500 inmates he agreed to release from Rikers Island due to coronavirus concerns are committing new crimes. The mayor told the New York Post, “I think it’s unconscionable just on a human level that folks were shown mercy and this is what some of them have done.”
What exactly did be Blasio think would happen?
The mayor has a long history of coddling New York’s worst. In 2019, he signed into law a plan to bribe offenders with bench warrants to make their scheduled court appearances by plying them with Mets tickets, store gift cards, subway passes, and movie tickets. The plan, which cost taxpayers $12 million, had little impact on the problem.
Earlier this year, de Blasio displayed uncommonly good judgment in objecting to a new New York State law that set offenders free without bail — a practice that Gov. Andrew Cuomo views as “discriminatory.” Predictably, that law has returned hardened criminals to the streets, some of whom have gone on to commit rape and murder.
Why de Blasio thought that releasing inmates because of COVID-19 would have a different outcome is a question for the ages.