Opinion: Releasing inmates during a time of crisis is a terrible idea

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

When all five of the city’s district attorneys, who are all fellow Democrats, say that the mayor’s initiative of releasing inmates from Rikers Island is dangerous, we should listen to them.

This week, the top prosecutors in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx united to strongly condemn Mayor de Blasio on this matter.

They said, “We want to make clear that the categories of those proposed for release have, in some instances, included individuals who pose a high risk to public safety.” They concluded with this zinger: “We should not have to make release decisions that we know will put communities at risk.”

As the quintessential example of the lunacy of this policy, Mayor Bill de Blasio actually wanted to release Christopher Ransom and Jagger Freeman, both indicted on murder and robbery charges, and now facing life in prison. These were the two that were responsible for the friendly-fire death of Detective Brian Simonsen in Queens on February 12, 2019. Simonsen was shot when cops were responding to the pair’s robbery of a T-mobile store. Thankfully, they were taken off de Blasio’s “get out of jail free” list when Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz objected.  

These releases are part of the progressive left’s continued push to make sure no one is in jail. They have used the virus to call for the NYPD to stop making arrests, and for district attorneys to cease prosecuting crimes. The NYPD Commissioner says they are not halting arrests but some District Attorneys have stopped prosecuting many crimes, including Eric Gonzalez here in Brooklyn. 

One anecdotal example this week may show that we are heading for a public safety crisis as well as a public health one due to the even softer approach to crime in response to the this pandemic.

Last Sunday, the Guardian Angels, led by their founder Curtis Sliwa, had to lockdown Penn Station due to the anarchy that was occurring. As seen in videos, they had to break up fights and chase down perpetrators. There were no police. 

Sliwa expressed concern for the elderly, and the homeless folks at the station, surviving in this “Darwinian Dante’s Inferno.” Of course, there was no city homeless outreach or anyone from First Lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC mental health program to be found to assist them, or those considered emotionally disturbed.

If we continue releasing prisoners and not prosecuting crimes, this scene could expand to more public places and neighborhoods. New Yorkers don’t need even more to worry about in these times.

Bob Capano has worked for Brooklyn Republican and Democrat elected officials, and has been an adjunct political science professor for over 15 years. Follow him on twitter @bobcapano.