Media Contact

Arianna Fishman, afishman@nyclu.org, 212-607-3372

September 28, 2021

NEW YORK CITY– Today, Governor Hochul issued an executive order to expand remote court hearings given the humanitarian crisis on Rikers Island. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from executive director Donna Lieberman:

“Governor Hochul is right to recognize that Rikers Island is a humanitarian disaster. We applaud the Governor for expanding access to remote hearings to limit the time New Yorkers spend on Rikers awaiting trial.

“However, the responsibility for this crisis also lies with state judges, District Attorneys, and a Mayor reticent to take bold action. Until prosecutors and judges stop sentencing accused New Yorkers to illness, trauma and death by all too often seeking and approving astronomical bail and ignoring the option of supervisory release, Rikers will remain a humanitarian disaster.

“As the Rikers population returns to pre-pandemic levels, city and state leaders must get serious about decarcerating and closing Rikers Island.”