Six months ago, in April 2020, as COVID-19 spread across New York City, infection rates rapidly escalated in Rikers Island. This resulted in the deaths of people incarcerated as well as people working  in the facility, as well as numerous infections. The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the NYC Department of Correction worked with CASES and two other providers of the supervised release bail alternative program to initiate a new, emergency program. The 6A Early Release Program helped more than 300 people to rapidly exit Rikers and return to the community, where they were engaged in ongoing supervision and support services for the remainder of their sentences to ensure successful reentry.
[Click here to view the latest program update] Outcomes as of September 22, 2020, include:
- Only 9% of participants have had a rearrest of any type, less than 1% of which were for violent offenses
- 78% of clients who have completed the program maintained daily contact with program staff
- Participants completed 20,250 program check-ins
- Staff made more than 400 referrals to additional services and supports, including to address urgent needs related to hunger and shelter
Despite the program’s remarkable success, no releases have been made through the 6A program since late April. Now, with infection rates again accelerating in New York City, 248 of 4,307 people detained in City jails (as of September 22, 2020) have tested positive for COVID-19—more than 5.75%, compared to 1.23% citywide on the same date. There may soon be the need for City public safety and public health agencies to restart the 6A Early Release Program.
CASES 6A Success Story, as told by his 6A Early Release Case Coordinator:
“Anthony* came into programming on March 23. Throughout his supervision, he faced numerous challenges that could have deterred him from completing the program, but with resilience, he successfully completed supervision. Anthony and I were able to build a strong rapport, which prompted him to be open with me about his life challenges. He expressed that he was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, which interfered with his day-to-day life. Anthony entered the program at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and consistently expressed concern about leaving his home in fear of contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to his family. We would speak about ways to cope with his anxiety to ease his fear of going outdoors during our supervision calls. Toward the ending of his supervision, he identified the need to reinstate his medical insurance, but due to fear of contracting COVID-19 he did not attend a related appointment. Knowing that Anthony would need additional support after supervision, I was able to refer him to the Fortune Society. After speaking to Anthony after his discharge date, he informed me that he was able to reinstate his Medicaid and that his mental health needs were being met. With the challenges of daily check-ins, struggling with mental health diagnoses, and overall day-to-day life in a pandemic, his resilience helped him complete supervision with CASES along with helping him to continue his journey of achieving better for himself and his family.”
CASES partnered with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and our fellow 6A Early Release Program providers the Center for Court Innovation and the Criminal Justice Agency to prepare the linked report.