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Oversight Committee Requests Briefings from New York City District Attorneys on Excessive Bail

Washington, D.C. (November 22, 2021)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Committee Member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent letters to five New York City District Attorneys requesting briefings on prosecutors’ use of excessive bail in the New York City court system and ways to address the overcrowding and unsafe conditions at New York correctional facilities, including Rikers Island.

“We have grave concerns that excessive bail amounts are leading to unnecessary pretrial detention and contributing to a humanitarian crisis in New York City’s jail system, particularly on Rikers Island.  Fourteen people have died this year in the custody of New York City Department of Correction,”  wrote the Members.  “Condemning thousands of individuals to languish in an environment plagued by persistent overcrowding and mounting violence as they await trial is not acceptable, and risks violating the federal civil rights of these individuals.  If these conditions are not addressed, federal intervention may be necessary to protect detainees from additional harm.”

There are currently over 5,400 people in custody in New York City’s jails—an increase from the 3,809 people in detention in April 2020—largely due to the growth in the number of pretrial detainees.  More than three-quarters of individuals in custody have not been convicted of any crime and are confined in unsafe conditions simply because they cannot afford cash bail.  

On September 27, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney, Chairman Raskin, and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Department of Corrections Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi, detailing concerns about the collapse of basic jail operations on Rikers Island and urging the officials to address the overcrowding and inhumane conditions by releasing low-level offenders into supervised programs.     

Click here to read the letter to the Bronx District Attorney.

Click here to read the letter to the Brooklyn District Attorney.

Click here to read the letter to the Manhattan District Attorney.

Click here to read the letter to the Queens District Attorney.

Click here to read the letter to the Richmond County District Attorney.

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