New York state and local officials are seeking the release of nearly 1,500 inmates, including violent offenders, some of whom are charged with crimes such as armed robbery and attempted murder. Only an intervention from New York City’s five district attorneys has kept most of them from being released to date. From a joint statement of the New York City district attorneys issued this week: “We want to make clear that the categories of those proposed for release have, in some instances, included individuals who pose a high risk to public safety.”

COVID-19 has made its way into Rikers Island, one of the world’s largest jail compounds, as it has made its way into every state in this country. This prompted city officials, defense attorneys, and other advocates to call for the release of inmates, since there is a high probability of widespread transmission in jails.

The two opposing groups have been mandated by New York City’s Board of Correction (NYCBOC) to work together to review lists of inmates at higher risk of contracting, and having complications from, COVID-19, while also making a risk assessment regarding public safety. A Manhattan supreme court already released some of these inmates, while others are still being reviewed.

When we get to the other side of this worldwide pandemic, background screening will be even more crucial to learn about the people you are hiring, including where they were before and during the COVID-19 health crisis.

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