May 23, 2024


Equality opinion

Man Died at Rikers Island as Lawmakers Voted on Parole Monthly bill

At close to 2 p.m. on Thursday, lawmakers in the point out Senate started voting to overhaul New York’s parole system next years of lobbying from specialists and advocates.

Two hrs afterwards, a correction officer located Jose Mejia Martinez — locked up on a parole violation tied to an arrest for swiping beer — dead in his mobile inside of the George Motchan Detention Center on Rikers Island.

Mejia Martinez, 34, grew to become the third person jailed on a parole violation immediately after a new arrest on a very low-degree offense to die on Rikers in considerably less than two months.

None of the brings about of loss of life have been established but.

Mejia Martinez struggled with mental illness and medications, in accordance to a supply acquainted with his case who was not licensed to talk publicly.

“It’s truly heartbreaking,” mentioned Gabriel Sayegh, the co-government director at the Katal Heart for Fairness, Wellness and Justice.

Sayegh and other supporters of the “Less Is More” Act, cited the demise as the most current stark illustration of why Gov. Andrew Cuomo should indicator the invoice into regulation suitable absent — and speed up its implementation. A Cuomo spokesperson did not promptly answer to a request for remark.

Prior to breaking for the summer Thursday night, the point out Senate and Assembly passed the measure, which would give parolees extra leeway in averting jail immediately after currently being busted for reduced-level offenses or technological violations.

Pursuing the current timeline, Much less Is Additional would be little by little carried out in advance of going into whole effect on March 1, 2022. But language in the legislation permits the condition officers to expedite the procedure.

Less than the act, parole officers would no for a longer period be in a position to quickly toss men and women again into jail if they violate curfew or are unsuccessful to notify their parole officers of a improve in work. The evaluate also involves officials to velocity up hearings for parolees accused of violating the disorders of their release.

A parole officer can at present mail someone again to jail promptly if “reasonable cause” for a violation exists. Among the opportunity violations: a unsuccessful drug test (like cannabis), a blown curfew or shifting home without acceptance.

A ‘Tragic Death’

As for Mejia Martinez, in April a parole violation warrant was issued following he was arrested for allegedly thieving two instances of beer from a CTown grocery store on St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, in accordance to the condition Division of Corrections and Group Supervision (DOCCS), which oversees individuals on parole.

Through his arrest, cops say they also discovered a crack pipe in his pocket and he was billed with prison possession of a controlled substance in the seventh diploma, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Workplace stated.

Mejia Martinez was also supplied a desk physical appearance ticket in two individual incidents and had not been arraigned nevertheless, in accordance to a supply familiar with his scenario.

Although on parole on a 2019 assault rap, he had failed to comply with repeated guidance for reporting to his parole officer and improved his home without acceptance, mentioned Thomas Mailey, a DOCCS spokesperson.

At present, when a person on parole is accused of a new, low-level misdemeanor offense — this sort of as shoplifting or possession of smaller amounts of medicines for particular use — a parole warrant can be immediately issued.

If the “Less Is Additional Act” is signed by Cuomo, individuals folks would be issued a penned notice of a parole violation. It would be up to the decide dealing with their new

prison scenario to make a decision irrespective of whether to put the particular person back again in jail pre-demo.

“Mr. Mejia Martinez’ tragic dying is the most current instance underscoring the great importance of not long ago passed Fewer Is More legislation, awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature, that aims to abolish obligatory detention for non-legal technological parole violations,” stated Lorraine McEvilley, director of the parole revocation defense device at The Authorized Assist Culture.

Two Very similar Circumstances

Mejia Martinez’ death, to start with noted by the Day-to-day Information, followed the new revelation of the demise of two other adult males at Rikers.

Thomas Earl Braunson died on Rikers Island on April 19 after being arrested for a parole violation.

Thomas Braunson III died whilst remaining held at Rikers Island in April.
Courtesy of Braunson Family members

Thomas Braunson III, 35, a new father jailed for allegedly shoplifting, died within the Eric M. Taylor Middle on Rikers on April 19. Braunson’s wife gave start to their daughter, Vinessa, a few months ahead of his demise.

On April 30, 45-12 months-old Richard Blake, an additional detainee held on a parole violation because of to a new arrest, died soon immediately after he advised employees he wasn’t sensation very well inside of the Otis Bantum Correctional Middle on Rikers.

No visible injuries had been located on their bodies, in accordance to first section reports, and triggers of dying were pending.