Starting in mid-March, the spread of COVID-19 across New York City caused many businesses, organizations, and services to shut down—but it also created the need for new programs to keep New Yorkers safe in the face of circumstances never before seen. And quickly. The Rikers 6-A Early Release Program was one of them.
With the COVID-19 infection rate on Rikers Island at least five times higher  than that of the general NYC population, City officials knew they had to reduce the number of people being held in the facility while maintaining public safety in the community at large. To make sure they did so, they turned to the three providers of Pretrial Release Services—CASES, the Center for Court Innovation, and the Criminal Justice Agency—to make sure the 312 people receiving early release through the 6-A program not only stayed crime-free but were connected to the basic necessities they needed to survive a pandemic. It’s working:
2% rearrest rate: The program has kept clients away from high infection rates at the jail while maintaining public safety.
92% compliance rate: Staff have made daily contact with the overwhelming majority of clients.
6,000 check-ins: Staff from the three agencies have made thousands of contacts with their clients to make sure they are staying safe, have the resources and support to meet basic needs such as hunger and housing, and receive behavioral and/or physical health care if needed.
250+ referrals made: Clients are getting connected to housing, job-readiness programs, and basic necessities such as food and clothing, setting them up for success in the future.
Please see this full report for how the program was rapidly developed and how it works.
Thanks to the Center for Court Innovation and the Criminal Justice Agency for their partnership in this initiative and in preparing the linked reports.