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Brooklyn Defenders and others want transparent COVID protocols for NYC jails

September 15, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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A group of legal service providers including Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) came together to write a letter demanding that certain city agencies provide clear and transparent COVID-19 protocols for local jails.

The groups, which also include the Legal Aid Society, the Bronx Defenders, New York County Defenders, Queens Defenders and Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem sent the letter on Monday that demanded answers six months after the pandemic has taken full effect in New York.

“We also seek information about how the Board of Correction intends to monitor the agencies’ implementation of these policies going forward,” said the letter. “To date, the lack of clear information from DOC (Department of Correction) and CHS (Correctional Health Services), including policies and procedures for testing people in custody and staff, and how incarcerated individuals will be able to quarantined and housed safely as facilities close and the population grows, has given us grave concerns that there have not been adequate preparations for a second wave of cases.”

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In addition to a list of procedures and protocols, the groups want answers regarding in-person legal and family visits, distribution of personal protective equipment, sanitation procedures, intake policies, quarantine policies, actions taken for social distancing, and access to health care, programming, education and other critical services.

The legal service providers also want to know what the jails’ standards will be for future pandemics and health emergencies, and they want to know what is being done to make sure that all procedures are being followed.

“Our offices have sought information on many of these policies over the course of the pandemic through FOIL, public calls for transparency and direct requests to the agencies,” the letter said. “The responses we have received have been insufficient to ensure the health and safety of our clients and, in some instances, our FOIL requests have gone unanswered.”

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

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