“The second report from the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform reaffirms the need, and offers some important recommendations for the central demand that the #CLOSErikers campaign has relentlessly and successfully organized toward for the past two years: the shuttering of the Rikers Island Jail Complex and a dramatically different approach to justice in New York City.
“In this report, One Year Forward, the Commission reiterates a sentiment that’s been expressed time and again by the people who’ve been directly impacted and harmed by Torture Island: ‘the road ahead is as much about changing mindsets as it is about specific policies…We must recognize that the criminal justice system cannot be deployed as the solution to all of society’s ills.’
“This is why #CLOSErikers campaign continues to demand the closure of Rikers Island while also driving the crucial work needed to #buildCOMMUNITIES. But until the former is achieved, this City will fail to invest in and protect its people. Every dime we waste on Rikers is a dime that isn’t going towards healthy, safe communities.
“We know that this goal can be achieved. As the Commission indicates, the significant reduction in New York City’s incarcerated population is further proof that we can – and should – release people who are being detained pretrial. Similarly, the increase in people being held for alleged probation and parole violations is an increase in the number of people whose lives are being unjustly disrupted due to bad policies that can and should be reformed. What the Commission neglects to mention is the need to focus on supporting the well-being of young adults, who through Raise the Age are being moved off of Rikers. We must ensure that this effort ultimately results in a reduction in the involuntary detention of youth and an increase in the number of youth who are able to be home with their families without being victim to other net-widening proposals that serve only to expand the reach of the justice system.
“As with the original report, #CLOSErikers supports many of the recommendations offered by the Commission, but not all of them. We will continue the push for the bold systematic overhaul that is necessary to transform our criminal justice system, including the reforms demanded by the #FREEnewyork campaign to our bail, discovery, and speedy trial laws.
“The City and State have a responsibility and an obligation to act. New York’s elected leaders must stop funding the cycle of punishment and criminalization that targets and jails people of color and people experiencing poverty. The City must act with the urgency communities demand as they call for an immediate end to the brutal and violent jail complex that destroys the environment and levies an emotional and fiscal tax upon families and loved ones. The City must dramatically increase resources that address community needs and repair the harm that the criminal justice system has caused. In all of this, directly impacted people must have a real seat at the table and must be central in any conversations about these reforms and investments. We have successfully disrupted and redefined the conversation around what is possible. We will continue to organize in every borough in this city and across this state to define a vision for our future and drive the changes needed to #CLOSErikers, #FREEnewyork, and buildCOMMUNITIES.”