NYCDS GALA Celebration. Learn More

NYCDS testifies at City Council about COVID-19 in City Jails

Testimony of

Christopher Boyle

Director of Data Research and Policy

New York County Defender Services

Before the

Committee on Criminal Justice and Committee on Justice System

Oversight Hearing – COVID-19 in City Jails and Juvenile Detention Facilities


Intros. 2020-6175, 2020-6183, & 2020-6184

May 19, 2020

My name is Christopher Boyle and I am the Director of Data Research and Policy at New York County Defender Services (NYCDS). We are a public defense office that represents New Yorkers in thousands of cases in Manhattan’s Criminal Court and Supreme Court every year. I have been a New York City public defender for more than twenty years. Thank you to Chairs Powers and Lancman for holding this hearing on the spread of COVID-19 in city jails.

New York City is failing miserably at keeping incarcerated people safe during the pandemic. Our adult jails and juvenile detention facilities are unsafe, and the novel coronavirus continues to spread unabated. This not only harms our clients in ways that violate their health, safety and  constitutional rights, but it also threatens the health and safety of all of the people who work in this facility, as well as their families and communities. The City Council must take urgent action to curb the spread of the disease. Two of the bills on today’s agenda are a step in the right direction, but they do not go far enough. We recommend amendments to ensure that they effectively help the city to achieve our goals in safely decreasing our city jail populations to a level that will allow people who cannot be safely released to social distance.

Read the complete testimony here.