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Statement from #CLOSErikers Campaign Coordinator Brandon Holmes on the City’s Certification to Begin the ULURP Process to Close the Rikers Island Jails Complex

STATEMENT — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 25, 2019

“The #CLOSErikers campaign is encouraged that New York City’s Department of City Planning has certified the application needed to begin the ULURP process to close the Rikers Island Jails complex. The #CLOSErikers campaign will continue to organize to make our plan come true and achieve the best possible outcomes – including the most expansive decarceration with the least restrictive conditions (a goal that also applies to the recently announced therapeutic settings).

We continue to lift up our demand that facilities should look and function nothing like current jails, and central to this is our demand that the Department of Correction does not manage any aspect of any new facilities.

Our demands related to facilities and justice reinvestment in our communities will ensure New Yorkers have the resources to thrive in cases of diversion or alternatives to incarceration, for re-entry, and to prevent any system involvement in the first place. We urge all New Yorkers to recognize the urgency of our plan to #CLOSErikers and #buildCOMMUNITIES and actively show their support for closing Rikers Island forever.

We believe it’s a step in the right direction that the maximum possible building height of new facilities has been reduced and the number of beds has gone down, and we know this number can continue to decrease. We are pleased that the demands of our partners leading the Beyond Rosies campaign have been heard, and that there will be one centralized women’s facility. We support their  demand for the city to ensure access to programs and services specifically geared towards women and families impacted by incarceration.

The City Council vote this October regarding land use will determine maximum facility height and location, and will ultimately determine a clear timeline for closure. In order to secure closure of all 10 Rikers Island jails including the Boat, we must have ULURP approval in the fall. From now until the ULURP is approved, and continuing after, we will ensure campaign demands developed by directly impacted leaders continue to drive closure on our terms.

Several #CLOSErikers campaign leaders participated in the Neighborhood Advisory Committees (NACs) which were formed by the City in response to our campaign’s demand for increased community engagement. Each NAC included a wide range of stakeholders and we believe that our participation as people that have been on Rikers is of historic significance. The Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Bronx NACs support our demand to decarcerate to 3,500 people. We will continue to raise our voices to continue impacting the final plan.

As the broader community engagement process begins around the Land Use vote, we remember the public scoping hearings in fall 2018 and the way that this campaign continued to drive the conversation since those hearings took place. We believe in equity and racial justice; and despite the class-based and racially charged opposition we have heard, we will continue to move forward and fight for a better future for all New Yorkers.

There are community investments that each neighborhood demands on the heels of the Neighborhood Advisory Committees. Many of these demands support both our priorities around rapid and long-term decarceration (i.e. eliminating money bail, ensuring access to treatment, ending jailing for people living with mental illness or substance use disorders) and community reinvestment such as fully funding NYCHA and community center repairs, rerouting MTA train and bus lines to improve access for all New Yorkers, and more.

As our city enters a historic moment in both city zoning and systems reform, we call on all New Yorkers to center the immediate and permanent closure of Rikers Island as led by directly impacted people, and we call for both New York City and State to lead the nation with a commitment to rapid, long term decarceration and community reinvestment.”

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