Michael Tyson, 53, had been jailed on Rikers Island since Feb.28. On March 26, Tyson had been moved from the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island to Bellevue Hospital, where he died from COVID-19. Tyson’s name was among the 100 detainees from The Bronx held on parole violations for whom the Legal Aid Society has been seeking immediate release, via a lawsuit filed in Bronx Supreme Court on April 3.
“This tragedy would have been entirely avoidable if only Governor Cuomo had directed [the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)] to act decisively from the outset of this epidemic to release incarcerated New Yorkers who, like Mr. Tyson, were especially vulnerable to the virus,” Tina Luongo, the attorney-in-charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at the Legal Aid Society, said in a press statement.
Tyson was one the 100 inmates named in a lawsuit filed in the Bronx Supreme Court by the organization on April 3. The lawsuit claims that inmates are being held for non-criminal parole violations. Names of individuals in the lawsuit are either elders or have underlying health issues. Tyson was listed as among “the highest risk group” due to his age and unspecified health issues, according to a letter cited therein from Correctional Health Services.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the detainee’s family in their time of grief. The safety and well-being of those in our custody remains our number one priority,” Peter Thorne, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections (DOC) said in a statement sent to TIME.
TIME also reports that a 273 inmates on Rikers Island have tested positive for the virus. Also, 321 jailers and 53 health professionals within NYC’s jail system have tested positive for COVID-19, and four jailers have died.
During a press conference, Mayor Bill De Blasio said that 900 inmates have been released from NYC’s jail system, with more releases in the works.