A murder suspect, Darius Mungin, 20, has been released on bail. That alone is not necessarily new but it is the reason that is alarming. Mungin was released due to the utter lack of security at Rikers Island where he was attacked repeatedly by gang members. Mungin is charged with attempted murder in an Aug. 30 shooting that happened outside a Manhattan deli where a man was shot in the chest. The office Manhattan District Attorney expressed sympathy for his situation in agreeing to lower his bail to allow him to be released. I am less opposed to the bail as I am to the fact that New York officials cannot maintain a prison with a minimal level of security. The lack of control over the prison is now a basis for release — a disgraceful admission by officials who continue to show utter incompetence and zero accountability. Where bail was once determined on the basis of the threat posed by a prisoner to society, it is now based on the threat posed by a prison to the prisoner.
Mungin has been held for two months and, according to his counsel, has been “victimized a number of times in six separate violent incidents.” In one instance, he was attacked by 12 inmates. Some attacks were caught on videotape and show the inmates with free rein in the prison. His counsel stated
“They punch him, stomped him, kicked him in the head, used whatever was available – these hard milk crates, baking pans, tablets, whatever, and literally took turns beating him and then left him there probably for four to five minutes. Then when they were done with him, they dragged him into a vestibule and then told corrections to come get him. And then corrections stood around for about four minutes before touching him and making sure he still had a pulse.”
Rikers has long been in the control of the inmates, particularly criminal gangs. New York officials have let this go on for decades with no accountability. It appears that we must now release murder suspects because the prison itself is too dangerous.
The question is why Mungen should be released and not other inmates who are left in this prison. Rikers now appears to be little more than a caged fight arena for rivaling gangs. Since New York officials lack the courage or commitment to do anything about this situation, other courts may soon follow suit with lowering bail amounts to protect inmates from the State of New York and its abusive correctional system.
Mungen’s family posted the required 10% of the bail amount and he was released on Feb. 8 on electronic monitoring.