Opposition Grows To NYC Regional Jails
People convicted of crimes in New York City may not be going to Rikers Island much longer, and no one is exactly sure where they will be going. But the post-conviction criminal procedure should remain the same.
In 2017, a commission recommended closing Rikers Island, which is almost universally seen as a sprawling, isolated, and dangerous facility. But the vision to replace it with several large, mixed-use facilities which are close to public transportation is not going according to plan. The city wants to build a jail in the South Bronx at the intersection of East 141st and Concord Avenue. However, local residents fear that the facility does not jive with redevelopment in Mott Haven. “It doesn’t belong here. A jail is the last thing we need,” remarked Diego Beekman Apartments CEO Arline Parks.
Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who chaired the aforementioned committee, said the residents’ concerns were misplaced. A modern jail provides “safety for everybody, yet space for everybody,” he insisted.
Probation in New York
Very few first-time misdemeanor offenders, even in violent cases, go to Rikers Island or any other similar facility. For various reasons, about 70 percent of the convicted defendants in these cases receive some form of supervised release. There are a number of standard conditions, such as:
- Remaining within a specified area (usually the county),
- Working and/or going to school full time,
- Supporting dependents,
- Reporting to a probation officer on a weekly or monthly basis,
- Surrendering firearms,
- Keeping good company, and
- Agreeing to home or work visits.
As a practical matter, New York probation officers usually do not make unannounced visits unless the probationer misses a meeting. However, they do have the right to make such visits at any time.
The New York court usually imposes some specific conditions as well. Almost everyone must perform community service as well as pay a fine and court costs. Most probationers, especially DUI and drug probationers, must also attend substance abuse counselling or similar classes. Sex offenders must register with the state, and that obligation may continue for a long time after the period of probation expires.
Failure to meet any of these conditions could result in a motion to revoke probation. If the probationer absconds (does not turn himself/herself in), the state will probably issue a bench warrant. This type of arrest warrant never expires. Many people are arrested on such warrants several years after they are issued.
Post-Probation in New York
Unlike many other states, expunction is not really an option in New York. An executive pardon is a possibility, but a rather remote one. However, there are some other post-conviction options.
Once you complete fifty percent of your probation, you are eligible for early discharge. That assumes you have a good record and have paid all fines and/or court costs. Other post-conviction remedies include:
- Certificate for Relief from Disabilities: This certificate makes it easier to get a job. In most cases, it creates “a presumption of rehabilitation” as to the charged offense. Individuals with fewer than two felony convictions are usually eligible.
- Certificate of Good Conduct: This certificate is a little more powerful than a CRD. Persons are eligible for CGCs after one year (any misdemeanor), three years (C, D, or E felony), or five years (A or B felony) after complete discharge.
The sentencing court usually has exclusive jurisdiction in New York post-conviction certificate matters.