The investments are part of the plan to close Rikers Island and usher in a new era for New York City
The City Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions and the Committee on Land Use voted on Wednesday to approve the plan to close the jails on Rikers Island and build four new borough-based facilities. Today, the plan will go before the full City Council for a vote, culminating a years-long effort propelled by the strong advocacy of the formerly incarcerated to shutter Rikers Island.
The vote occurs as Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson and Council leadership agree to a wide-range of investments tied to the closure of Rikers totaling $391 million dollars, including $126 million in previously planned investments and $265 million in new programming that will address the root causes of incarceration and help fundamentally reshape New York City’s criminal justice system going forward. These investments are being announced in detail for the first time today.
This massive decarceration effort establishes New York City as a leader in criminal justice reform and pioneer in ending mass incarceration. The number of New Yorkers entering jail has declined by nearly half in the past 6 years. The jail population has declined from 11,000 in 2014 to about 7,000 today, and is projected to be approximately 3,300 by 2026.
“When we pledged to close Rikers Island, we made a promise to transform a broken criminal justice system and give back to the communities that have experienced the effects of mass incarceration firsthand, said Mayor de Blasio. “By investing in neighborhoods and putting people on the path to success, we are making good and getting closer to a day where we’re the fairest, big city in America.”
“For far too long, this city’s answer to every societal problem was to throw people in jail. Because of that, we lost generations to mass incarceration, mostly young men of color. These investments are at the heart of our plan to close Rikers. We are investing $391 million in our communities to not only reform our system, but also address the root causes of incarceration. This includes $265 million in brand new spending for programming and capital projects, and is on top of the $40 million increase in criminal justice spending this Council won in the FY20 budget in preparation of closing Rikers. I am proud of this plan, and grateful to my fellow Council Members, particularly Council Members Diana Ayala, Margaret Chin, Karen Koslowitz, and Stephen Levin, as well as Adrienne Adams, Chair of the Subcommittee of Landmarks, Keith Powers, Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, the de Blasio administration and the longtime advocates for their partnership in this joint effort to usher in a new era for New York City,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Reducing Incarceration through Prevention, Diversion, and Reentry
In its aim to provide safe and smart diversion from jail, the plan adds over $71 million for alternatives to detention and incarceration and reforms to the Department of Correction, building on $126 million in annual investments to reduce justice involvement, support communities, and make our justice system smaller, safer, and fairer.
Highlights of those investments and policy changes include:
· $54 million expansion of pretrial services including Supervised Release, the City’s primary diversion program, which has prevented 15,000 people from entering jail since its inception in March 2016. This program will be expanded to become an option for people facing every type of criminal charge.
· $17 million in new funds to expand and continue Alternatives to Incarceration programs that will now serve 7,300 people per year, which will reduce the number of people serving sentences in City jails.
· Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice will invest in a planning grant for The Imagining Project, a collaboration between the Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and the Columbia University Justice Lab, an organization whose long term mission is to create a plan for getting to zero incarceration and minimal convictions for youth age 25 and under. A similar effort with the Center for Court Innovation will create a community justice center to provide community-based programming in the Far Rockaways, with a focus on providing alternatives to arrest and incarceration and reducing recidivism post-incarceration.
· Building on the existing investment in in-custody programming and reentry services, the City is restructuring such services to ensure access to comprehensive social services and access to paid transitional employment post-release for everyone leaving City jails.
· Services to support incarcerated individuals facing medical and mental health issues, including: doubling the number of therapeutic treatment units in the jails, known as the Program for Accelerated Clinical Effectiveness, or PACE; expanded mental health discharge planning services; and a new program to help ensure continuity of medical care for those exiting City jails.
· Expanded programming for social and emotional learning to help school communities be more proactive in changing school culture and climate, with the goal to foster and maintain a supportive school environment while reducing conflict.
· Requiring every detention facility to have dedicated administrative space for community based providers as well as dedicated space for services and programming in every housing unit. Also requiring new trainings for correction officers, program staff, and healthcare staff to participate in together.
· Expanded pre-arraignment diversion that will allow more people to avoid prosecution and have their arrests sealed
· Increased funding to community-based restorative justice programming, with a particular focus on serious felony level cases that would otherwise result in detention and incarceration. This model will invest in community-based infrastructure in conjunction with the District Attorneys and courts.\
· Commitment to build a Community Justice Fund through a public-private partnership managed by the Mayor’s Fund that would strengthen the fabric of community justice and safety by focusing on developing programming and policies for truly communities based investments.
Address the Root Causes of Incarceration Through Investments In Housing and Community-Based Mental Health Services
The City will increase the number of supportive and transitional housing units dedicated to serving people who are homeless, have health needs, and histories of justice involvement to 1,000
· In addition to the investment in expanding the Justice Impacted Supportive Housing (JISH) program from 120 to 270 beds, the City will create an additional 230 JISH units for people who are homeless with a history of justice involvement. This brings the total JISH bed commitment to 500 units.
· In addition to baselining the City’s current $5 million investment in transitional housing for people with justice involvement, the City will increase funding to $25M (increasing the number of units from 100 to 500 by FY23) for transitional housing services enable people to avoid jail by participating in ATDs and ATIs and stabilize post-release.
· Commitments, adopted from the NYCCrisis Prevention and Response Task Force recommendations that ensure people with behavioral health needs are provided medical treatment and community-based responses to limit justice-involvement. Highlights of these investments include 8 new New Health Engagement and Assessment (HEAT) teams to proactively engage people at risk of mental health crises. These teams – which include one clinician and one peer – connect people to care and other stabilizing support, preventing mental health needs from becoming crises.
· Other highlights include 6 Mobile Crisis Teams, which ensure a more rapid response by mental health professionals and peers to those in mental health distress, and 4 new Intensive Mobile Treatment teams, which provides proactive and sustained engagement with those individuals with behavioral health needs. This commitment will also include 4 new co-response teams in high need precincts, in which police officers and mental health clinicians work together to respond to 911 calls involving those in mental health distress.
Community Based Violence Reduction
To increase investment in neighborhood based and community led programs that improve public safety and reduce violence, the City will invest additional $2.7M in new investments and expanded Cure Violence programming in 6 areas including:
· 25th Precinct in East Harlem, encompassing New York City Housing Authority's (NYCHA’s) Senator Robert F. Wagner, Sr. Houses
· 40th Precinct in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, encompassing NYCHA's Judge Lester Patterson Houses and Mitchel Senior Center Houses
· 113th Precinct in Southeast Queens, encompassing the southeastern area of Jamaica, Queens, along with St. Albans, Hollis, Springfield Gardens, South Ozone Park, South Jamaica, Addisleigh Park, and Locust Manor.
· 47th Precinct in the Eastchester neighborhood of the Bronx, encompassing NYCHA's Edenwald Houses.
· 60th Precinct in Southern Brooklyn, encompassing Coney Island, Brighton Beach, West Brighton Beach, and Sea Gate.
· 67th Precinct in Central Brooklyn, encompassing East Flatbush and Remsen Village
New neighborhood investments, announced today, will support communities surrounding the borough-based jails through new affordable housing, youth programming, community and cultural centers.
These local investments include:
· New programming and recreation spaces for young people that give them safe and productive environments. This includes two new community centers in the South Bronx at 1080 Ogden Avenue and at 337 East 139th Street, and investments in NYCHA community centers in the South Bronx at Mill Brook, Mitchel, Patterson and Mott Haven Houses.
· New affordable housing in the South Bronx at 351 Powers Avenue and 320 Concord Avenue.
· Capital improvements at Samuel Gompers High School, and P.S. 99 and P.S. 139 in Queens. Technology investments for P.S. 65 in the South Bronx
· New performing arts space and initial city support for acquisition of a permanent home for the Museum of Chinese in America, at 215 Centre Street in Manhattan.
· Support for Chung Pak senior housing adjacent to the Manhattan borough-based jail site and small business relocation assistance.
· Upgrades to Columbus Park in lower Manhattan, including renovations to the comfort station and the pavilion.
· Streetscape improvements around the Brooklyn borough-based jail site.
· Upgrades to Queens Community House located at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road
Design Changes That Better Integrate New Facilities Into Their Surrounding Communities
Negotiations between the Mayor’s Office and Council will result in additional improvements to the City’s plan to build borough-based jail facilities to prioritize therapeutic environments, and culture change in all aspects of the borough-based jail system, and to better integrate DOC and programmatic staff. About 40% of the housing units across the borough-based system will be dedicated therapeutic units with specific staffing and services to better serve people with mental health, substance use, and complex medical needs.
This effort was born from a commission created by the City Council in 2016, and led by former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, to study how to improve our jail system and our criminal justice system as a whole.
In 2018, the de Blasio administration initiated the Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process to site the new borough-based jails. Through months of engagement, both locally in communities with proposed jail sites, and also more broadly with criminal justice stakeholders, the plan to site borough-based jails evolved to maximize investments in addressing the underlying causes of incarceration, transform our justice system, and respond to local community-based concerns about building scale.
In addition, to ensure that Rikers Island is never again used to incarcerate people, the City Council will vote today to initiate a City Map change that will restrict the use of detention centers on Rikers Island after December 31, 2026, thus requiring such facilities to close.
Additional details and a full list of commitments are included in a Points of Agreement letter signed by the Mayor and received by the Council on October 16, 2019.