Yesterday Michael Tyson died of complications from the coronavirus while being jailed for a technical parole violation. He was a client in a recently-filed NYCLU lawsuit challenging the automatic detention of people for parole violations in New York City, and he is the first person to die from the coronavirus while jailed on Rikers. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from Senior Staff Attorney, Phil Desgranges:
"We're devastated by Michael Tyson's death. This was a preventable tragedy. If he had not been automatically jailed over a mere alleged technical parole violation, he could still be with us today.
We've known for over a month that the crowded conditions at Rikers put people at serious risk of the coronavirus. Officials moved slowly and failed to release enough vulnerable people despite calls from across the city, state, and country. Our lawsuit demands an opportunity for release for all those detained in New York City jails for alleged parole violations to prevent more tragedies like Mr. Tyson's death.
New York must dramatically reduce its incarcerated population and take immediate steps to reduce the risk to any individuals who remain incarcerated. The governor and other officials can still take action to save lives, manage the spread of the virus, and ensure people can isolate and get treatment in safe environments."