While we support the plan to close Rikers Island for the inhumane activity which has occurred during its existence, we unequivocally reject the city's plan to build new jails, including in the South Bronx where more than 6,500 people have signed a petition to prevent a new jail from being built (see petition here).
The city’s jail population has fallen from a high of 21,674 in 1991 to under 9,000 earlier this year through a combination of falling crime rates and criminal justice reforms, and we challenge the city to further reduce the number of people in jail through a combination of bail reform, decriminalization of minor offenses, and more restorative ways to deal with crime that would make the construction of a new facility unnecessary.
We believe that Rikers Island can be safely and responsibly closed without constructing new jails as shown in the plan laid out by No New Jails NYC
If the city builds new jails, the city is going to fill them up. With more than 2.3 million people imprisoned across the US, mass incarceration is the greatest moral and racial injustice of our time. We need bold investments in people, not prisons.
The answer to our communities’ problems is not to expand the criminal justice footprint and the carceral state, but rather to support grassroots community efforts for self-care, affordability, and inclusion like the Diego Beekman Neighborhood Plan and restorative justice methods used by Community Connections for Youth and Friends of Brook Park to provide alternatives to incarceration for youth, men and women - just a few examples from the South Bronx.