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STATEMENT FROM GLENN E. MARTIN, JUSTLEADERSHIPUSA and GABRIEL SAYEGH, KATAL CENTER FOR HEALTH, EQUITY, AND JUSTICE ON MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE REDUCTION IN NEW YORK CITY’S JAIL POPULATION

Thursday, March 23, 2017 (New York, NY) – Glenn E. Martin, President and founder of JustLeadershipUSA, and gabriel sayegh, Co-founder and Co-Executive Director of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice are leaders in the #CLOSErikers campaign.  They issued the following statements in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that the New York City jail population has declined dramatically since he took office.

Glenn E. Martin, President and founder of JustLeadershipUSA said, “These numbers show that there are no more excuses. Now is clearly the time to take action to close Rikers. Instead, the Mayor is moving forward with plans to renovate the failed jail. It is not progressive to renovate Torture Island. Leaving Rikers open is a failure of leadership. It makes no sense to continue on the same path we know isn’t working. The dramatic drop in incarceration rates accomplished at the same time as record lows in crime makes the path forward clear to New Yorkers, but City Hall isn’t paying attention. Mr. Mayor, it is time to finally align your actions with your values and close Rikers once and for all.”

gabriel sayegh, Co-founder and Co-Executive Director of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice said, “The lower headcount in the city’s jails should prove once and for all that now is the time for Rikers Island to close permanently. The jail has been the site of too many tragedies and injustices, from Kalief Browder’s outrageous detention, to countless men and women whose suffering never made the news, but should nonetheless never be forgotten. Mayor de Blasio needs to stop delaying and move immediately to close Rikers.”

About the #CLOSErikers campaign:
The #CLOSErikers campaign was formed in 2016 to break the political gridlock and achieve real solutions that are guided by directly impacted communities.  Led by JustLeadershipUSA, in partnership with other organizations, the #CLOSErikers campaign includes community groups, researchers, faith and human rights leaders, criminal justice experts, health and housing service providers, advocacy and legal groups and more.  Through the campaign, over 125 diverse organizations across New York City have joined together to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio close Rikers.  By closing Rikers, New York City can focus on healing and rebuilding the communities where Rikers has brought suffering.  The campaign to #CLOSErikers is calling for New Yorkers to boldly reimagine the city’s failed criminal justice system and become a national leader in ending mass incarceration. www.closerikers.org

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CONTACT:  Emily NaPier, emily@justleadershipusa.org or 315.243.5135