‘This is shocking and disturbing. It’s a bad decision by our leaders…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Although New York City authorities released about 2,500 inmates from the Rikers Island correctional facility due to concerns over the coronavirus, police have now rearrested at least 10 percent of those on about 450 different occasions, WNBC reported.
“We’re continuing to see people get arrested over and over and let right back out. And it really defies common sense,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
Michael LiPetri, chief of Crime Control Strategies for the NYPD, said he supported the department’s decision to release elderly and sickly inmates, but he said the rearrest data indicated that the department freed more prisoners than it should have.
Some New Yorkers expressed sympathy for the recidivist convicts, particularly as recent race riots sought to stir anti-law-enforcement sentiment and publicly shame those who supported police.
But business owners were among those who faced a dilemma of trying to show their solidarity with criminal-justice activists while dealing with the sometimes financially-devastating fallout of the releases.
Josh Rahmani, co-owner of Prime Essentials drug store, said his surveillance tapes on June 6 caught a man stealing socks and putting them on his feet.
“I felt really bad that he got arrested for taking socks, food and medicine,” Rahmani said. “We would have just given it to him if [he] had asked.”
Rahmani and Ebi Khalili, his business partner, said they are unhappy with the city’s policy regarding early release due to the coronavirus.
They said their video tapes show 27-year-old Jonathan Martinez smashing their store’s window with a rock and then stealing merchandise.
Before the incident, the NYPD had arrested and released Martinez three times.
“This is shocking and disturbing,” Khalili said. “It’s a bad decision by our leaders.”
Authorities released Martinez from Rikers on March 16, despite being imprisoned on multiple charges from separate incidents, including larceny and forcible touching.
He allegedly robbed Sephora, a makeup store, and was armed according to some accounts.
Then he served a year in prison after pleading guilty in 2014 to strangulating his girlfriend.
Danny Frost, spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, said the office did not approve Martinez’s release.
“At the time, the court released him for COVID,” Frost said.
Since his mid-March release, he has been arrested for stealing a cellphone from someone in a parked car while threatening them with box-cutters. He was released on bond.
Then he was arrested in April for stealing from Gourmet Garage and again in June for smashing the windows of Lahn, a jewelery and clothing store, and stealing merchandise.