NEW YORK — Reginald Randolph — a 58-year-old Harlem native with a history of drug addiction — spent more than two years in Rikers Island Jail for stealing some 40-boxes of NyQuil from two Manhattan pharmacies.
More than 230 faith and community leaders penned a letter in support of Randolph’s case, and sent it directly to Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Hochul has yet to rule on a clemency petition to have Randolph’s sentence commuted.
The Reverend Peter Cook, executive director of the New York State Council of Churches, is one of the letter’s lead signers.
“The problem … is that the punishment, in proportion to the crime, is completely out of balance,” Cook said.
New York State Sen. Jessica Ramos, along with two of her colleagues, also sent a letter to Gov. Hochul, advocating for Randolph.
“The injustice here is that many New Yorkers across time have had to plead guilty in order to try to get the services that they’ve actually needed. And that’s a practice we need to end,” she said.
Ramos added incarceration doesn’t address the root of issues like substance abuse.
Addressing that vicious cycle of incarceration — even when it includes addicts with mental health issues — remains a source of tension among elected and law enforcement officials.
Newly elected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s critics are outraged over his decision to not seek jail or prison time for various low level, non-violent crimes, along with certain assault, robbery and gun possession charges.
New York City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli is one of those critics — he called Bragg’s strategy “pro criminal.”
Bragg said cases like Randolph’s deserve to be treated differently within the criminal justice system.
“We need to give people services, so that we can stop these incidents from occurring, and also, we can focus on what people are sitting around the kitchen table talking about — which is gun safety, gun violence sexual assaults and domestic violence. That’s where our focus needs to be,” he said.