“When you’re trapped on Rikers Island, the connection you have to your family, lawyer, and community support is crucial. You need that connection for survival on Rikers. You need that connection to maintain some small glimmer of hope in what’s otherwise an oppressive, brutal environment that’s designed to break you down and rob you of your dignity and humanity. The sad reality is, in New York City, that  connection is expensive – private actors like Securus and the City, itself, profit off of incarcerated families by charging us money to make phone calls from jail. Beyond impeding our connection to the outside world, charging for calls is what helps ensure that when you’re incarcerated, your family is also incarcerated and harmed by the justice system.

“Today, the New York City Council ensured that we become the first city to end this abhorrent and shameful practice with the passage of Intro 741, which makes calls free for all people in New York City jails. This historic milestone will help directly impacted communities save up to $8 million per year, and will help protect the connections that you have to maintain with your family or with an incarcerated loved one. As someone who wasn’t able to call my family the way I needed to when I was on Rikers, I know this law could potentially have a profound impact on everyone who is there today. We will hold the Board of Correction accountable to ensure that the potential is met and that this new rule is thoroughly and safely implemented in city jails.

“We absolutely have to #CLOSErikers. Until we achieve that goal, we have to do everything we can to protect the humanity of the people who are there. Intro 741 will help us do that, and I thank the City Council for taking this important step forward.”