The infection rate from COVID-19 in New York City’s Rikers Island jails is currently almost 30 times the rate for the U.S. as a whole. As the city struggled to get people out from behind bars—criticized both for moving too slowly, and for even contemplating releasing anyone early from a jail sentence—it turned to a trio of nonprofits to repurpose a successful program on the fly. The urgency of supporting people being released abruptly from jail in the midst of a pandemic is clear, but so are the challenges. The experience also raises the question: what happens to criminal justice when the virus ends?
Interview recorded on May 1
See a summary of results from the Rikers Early Release Program
Listen to a related New Thinking: ‘Jail-Attributable Deaths’