The City of New York and the acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision have been named in a proposed class action lawsuit filed over what the plaintiff alleges is an unlawful “parole holds” system that prevents the release of parolees who have been arrested and sent back to city jails. According to the lawsuit, “hundreds, if not thousands” of individuals have spent time wrongfully incarcerated due to the defendants’ allegedly unconstitutional parole hold system.
The case claims that when parolees are arrested on other grounds, New York City parole officers are required by law to issue and execute a parole warrant, possess said warrant before detaining a parolee, deliver to the parolee within three days of arrest a written notice containing the time and place of a preliminary hearing, and have that preliminary hearing within 15 days of the execution of the warrant. As the plaintiff tells it, the city instead utilizes an “illegal system” for which parole officers request that New York place a “hold” on a parolee, i.e. keep the individual detained “without following the legal procedures” required to keep someone locked up for an alleged parole violation.
“It is the policy, custom, and practice of the New York City Department of Corrections … to honor those ‘holds,’ despite their lack of a judicial basis or legal authority,” the complaint reads.
The plaintiff additionally claims proposed class members are subject to a holds cancellation process that can take days or weeks, “even where no valid warrant ever existed,” the complaint says. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff, a parolee until December 2020, was arrested on what he says were groundless charges that were later dismissed. The man’s parole officer, according to the suit, placed a hold on him during his time with the Department of Corrections that kept the man detained even after he posted bail. The plaintiff sat on Rikers Island for 18 days due to what he claims was an unconstitutional hold.