As COVID-19 begins to spread in the U.S. prison system, calls are growing in the New York City epicenter of the pandemic to release people from Rikers Island, the second-largest jail system in the country. At least 39 prisoners and 21 staff at Rikers Island have tested positive. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday the city had released 75 people, but advocates are calling for the release of thousands more. Democracy Now! speaks with Dr. Homer Venters, former chief medical officer for New York City’s Correctional Health Services and author of “Life and Death in Rikers Island.” His piece for The Hill is headlined “Coronavirus behind bars: 4 priorities to save the lives of prisoners.”
Democracy Now! is a daily national independent award-winning news program, hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.