Op-Ed: Andrew Cuomo, Stop a Coronavirus Disaster: Release People From Prison

Harvard FXB Director Dr. Mary T. Bassett

In a New York Times op-ed published today, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights Director Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker call on New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to release people from prison to protect both people currently incarcerated and the staff who work in these facilities.

In it, the authors write, “Given the conditions in which incarcerated people live — limited access to soap and water; shared bathrooms, mess halls and living quarters — this population is especially vulnerable to the virus, and largely unable to prevent its spread. In New York, we’ve already begun to see the effects. Dozens of residents and correctional staff members have tested positive. More will follow.”

The authors call on Governor Cuomo to:

  1. Grant compassionate release to incarcerated individuals who are elderly and/or people at higher risk of dying from COVID-19
  2. Release the thousands of people currently incarcerated on noncriminal technical parole violations
  3. Grant early releases to people who are 180 days or less from completing their sentences
  4. Direct prison and jail administrators to furlough low-risk inmates and use his emergency powers to extend the furloughs through the end of the COVID-19 crisis

Read the New York Times op-ed here.