Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday said she was ordering the immediate release of 191 inmates who are locked up on Rikers Island for what she called “technical” violations of their parole from state prison.
Hochul made the announcement before signing into law the “Less Is More Act” that will stop the state from putting ex-cons back behind bars for missing appointments with their parole officers, violating curfew or testing positive for drugs or alcohol.
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The measure is set to go into effect on March 1, but Hochul said the ongoing crisis at Rikers meant there was no time to wait, calling reports of out-of-control violence and chaos at the massive jail complex “deeply disturbing.”
Hochul also said she was ordering the transfers of around 200 inmates from Rikers to state prisons amid recent admissions by city Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi that planned reform efforts can’t be achieved under the existing conditions.
Hochul said the inmates she was releasing “have served their sentences” for the crimes they committed and “do not need to be incarcerated.”
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Hochul also said 65 percent of the parolees sent back to prison in New York had only committed “a very technical violation” and that several Southern states “are ahead of us on this.”
“New York incarcerates more people for parole violations than anywhere in the country,” she said.
“That is a point of shame for us and it needs to be fixed.”