Thursday, April 02, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo - ANYTHING For Rich Superspreaders NOTHING For NY Rural And Poor

theroot |  Even as the governor is pushing the state to ramp up its hospital capacity, away from the cameras, he’s been trying to take an axe to Medicaid funding in New York, a move that could cost the Empire State $6.7 billion in desperately-needed federal relief funding. Medicaid money is essential for public hospitals that primarily serve low-income residents in New York City, and for the state’s rural communities.

“It’s obscene,” State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat who chairs the Senate Health Committee, told the Nation. “These are immoral actions that the governor is taking.”
But the governor’s maliciousness doesn’t stop there. He’s proposed a massive bail reform reversal that would take a powder keg—the vulnerability of New York’s jails and prisons to coronavirus outbreaks—and throw a Molotov cocktail on it.

The current state law forbids cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felony offenses—as Slate explains, judges may still incarcerate thousands of people pre-trial, but they’re typically accused of felonies.

Cuomo’s proposal would “dramatically expand judges’ ability to ‘remand’ defendants or to detain them indefinitely before their trial without due process protections,” Slate writes. Pretrial detention would also apply to a wider range of offenses: it would permit judges to evaluate the future “dangerousness” of defendants (basically, guess how likely they will be to commit another violent crime—something the state has never allowed judges to do while setting bail); and allow the courts to remand people who commit misdemeanor offenses while awaiting trial, meaning someone who shoplifts from a pharmacy could face indefinite pretrial detention.

The plan would make closing jails on Riker’s Island nearly impossible. But more immediately, it increases the state’s carceral capacity at a time when overcrowded jails pose a major public health risk because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Slate breaks it down this way:
New York City jails may actually be the most dangerous place in America as far as the coronavirus is concerned. On Wednesday, the Guardian reported that almost 180 people incarcerated at Rikers and 141 corrections staff were infected with the coronavirus. The infection rate in New York City jails is more than seven times higher than the rate for all New York City residents and at least 75 times higher than the rate for all Americans. Rikers does have an infectious disease unit with 88 beds, but the unit has no ventilators for incarcerated patients, and the jail’s chief physician estimates that about 20 percent of incarcerated people with the virus will need hospitalization, and 5 percent will need ventilators. Incarcerated people are also fundamentally unable to practice social distancing; one incarcerated woman told NY1 that dormitory beds weren’t even 6 feet apart.
This is a danger both to the people behind bars, and those who are far removed from them.