Enormous Response Following Story of New Yorkers Released From Jail Into Freezing Weather
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2016

After the Daily News reported on how people released from jail were routinely sent into frigid New York City streets without coats, the publication reported on reactions to the story – including New Yorkers’ contributions to be put towards winter clothing.

The initial article published last week noted The Legal Aid Society had its own collection of coats for released individuals; the coats were mostly donations from Legal Aid attorneys. In a follow-up article, Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society's Criminal Defense Practice, said there had been an “enormous” response to the story. “I think when you see someone without a coat, even at Rikers (Island), people say this is not something we should be doing as New Yorkers,” Luongo said, adding, “Maybe a very small population don’t care about these people, but I think most New Yorkers are compassionate.”

The article noted an offer to help from New York Cares, which will result in the distribution of 70 coats across Legal Aid’s courthouse offices. The article also directed readers to Legal Aid’s clothing drive site: http://steadfastforjustice.org/winter/.

Meanwhile, the article said the New York City Department of Correction would provide inmates with jackets for court appearances in cold weather. Likewise, the story noted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had signed a law mandating “weather-appropriate” civilian clothing for released inmates.




NY Daily News
NYC jails, donors set to provide freed inmates coats in cold weather
By Rocco Parascandola and Ben Kochman
December 24, 2016

Shivering inmates released into the freezing cold without coats could finally be in luck.

Days after a Daily News report revealed the city’s coldhearted practice of releasing people from courthouses in thin jail-issued uniforms, the Correction Department said it would provide inmates with jackets for court appearances in frigid weather.

If the inmate is discharged that day, they can keep the “weather-appropriate attire,” the DOC said.

And if that doesn’t work, public defenders say good Samaritans citywide have been chipping in to help donate winter clothes after The News’ story was published.

“The response has been enormous,” said Tina Luongo, attorney in charge at the Legal Aid Society's Criminal Practice.

“I think when you see someone without a coat, even at Rikers (Island), people say this is not something we should be doing as New Yorkers.”

Luongo added: “Maybe a very small population don’t care about these people, but I think most New Yorkers are compassionate,” she added.

After reading about the issue in The News Thursday, Gary Bagley, executive director of the nonprofit New York Cares — which collects coats for the homeless — called up Legal Aid and asked what he could do to help.

Legal Aid requested 70 coats, and a staffer will stop by the organization’s Midtown office this week to pick them up and distribute them to offices near courthouses across the city.

Mayor de Blasio signed a bill into law Thursday requiring jails to provide inmates with “weather-appropriate” civilian clothing when they’re released.

The law takes effect in 120 days, but the Correction Department says it is already “working diligently” to stock jails and courthouses with winter clothing.

Inmates who travel to court with a coat will be required to return it for future use, the DOC said.

You can donate on the Legal Aid’s clothing drive site.