De Blasio giving freed NYC inmates MetroCards, gift cards, T-Mobile flip phones


Is it any wonder New York is losing residents at an alarming rate.

@NYCMayor latest rewarding crime initiative. The “crime pays” giveaways build on another de Blasio policy showers freebies including Mets tickets on prisoners being released under the state’s new bail-reform law.

Related: Nearly 900 city inmates may be freed even before bail-reform law takes effect

De Blasio giving freed NYC inmates MetroCards and gift cards

By Rebecca Rosenberg, Alex Taylor and Bruce Golding

December 27, 2019 |

De Blasio giving freed NYC inmates cellphones, MetroCards and gift cards

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest soft-on-crime initiative has workers stationed on Rikers Island presenting newly released jailbirds with free transit passes and two $25 debit cards each, The Post has learned.

Plans even call for the addition of prepaid, “burner”-style cellphones and drawstring bags for the ex-inmates to carry their swag, a source familiar with the program said.

The “crime pays” giveaways build on another de Blasio policy — revealed by The Post last month — that showers freebies including Mets tickets on prisoners being released under the state’s new bail-reform law.

Those goodies are intended to serve as incentives so the defendants return to court as ordered, but the new program covers everyone who’s released from Department of Correction custody, the source said.

That includes cons who have finished their jail terms or been sentenced to time served.

Law enforcement officials were outraged over the swag bags.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when the city bends over backward to reward criminals instead of protecting the victims of their crimes,” one source lamented. “What’s next? Free limo service back home?”

The taxpayer-funded program, which is set to run for six months and expand to city courthouses next week, relies on workers from several nonprofits that cater to ex-cons and are being paid by the city.

The groups include the Fortune Society, the Osborne Association and Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, the source said.

The city is spending $500,000 on items that will also include winter coats. It will also distribute footwear donated by the Steven Madden shoe company, according to the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, which is overseeing the program.

Officials declined to say how many prisoners the DOC expects to release before the program’s scheduled end in June, but data posted on the city’s website shows that 2,489 inmates were discharged last month.

If that number holds steady, nearly 15,000 inmates will likely benefit from the program.

On Friday, The Post saw several workers stationed at a table in front of the Rikers visitation building.

Since Tuesday, one said, between five and 50 discharged prisoners a day were given seven-day MetroCards worth $32 and two, $25 Visa gift cards.

Next week, the swag will include a prepaid Metro by T-Mobile flip phone, the worker said.

The Bronx man, 27, who gave his name as “Jesse,” said he served 11 months for assault, and spent his debit cards on food upon getting sprung.

“Fortune Society says they’ll give me another if I stay clean and pass a drug test,” said Jesse, who has a teardrop tattooed at the corner of his left eye.

“It’s a debit. No cash. But it’s still good.”

A mayoral spokesman said sending ex-inmates home “with essential resources needed to survive is critical to ensuring the safety of themselves and others, and maintaining our status as the safest big city in America.”

But a law enforcement source said the program showed “how society is swinging.”

“2020 is going to be the year of the perp,” the source said.

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