Saturday, September 18, 2021

Senator Biaggi's Week in Review: 9/13/21-9/17/21


Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Dear Community,

I want to begin by saying G'mar Chatima Tova to our Jewish neighbors and wish the community a blessed Yom Kippur, which occurred earlier this week. I hope that everyone observing had an easy and meaningful fast. 

Earlier this week, I joined a group of elected officials to visit Rikers Island. What I witnessed was horrifying beyond words  never ending piles of garbage and feces covering the floors, water bugs and lice biting at the skin of the incarcerated, bleach poured on the walls and floors, people locked in solitary confinement in very narrow shower stalls amidst their own feces, because many of the cell doors are broken, and the list goes on. 

Under these current conditions on Rikers Island, safety is jeopardized for everyone. For anyone who visits Rikers, it is obvious the City is no longer capable of ensuring the safety of the incarcerated and staff. The conditions are hellish, and if any other country engaged in this inhumane treatment against their own people, the United States and New York State would be the first to call it out. Yet here we are, denying our fellow community members the most basic dignity all human beings deserve. 

Inaction is no longer an option, and we must begin with decarceration measures to reduce the population on Rikers Island.  

I am calling for the following measures to be taken:

  1. Governor Kathy Hochul immediately sign the Less is More Act (S1144A/A5576) and direct Acting NYS DOC Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci to use his discretion to release individuals being incarcerated for technical parole violations.
  2. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Correction utilize the Early Release (6A) Program to permit people sentenced to less than one year to be released and serve the remainder of their sentence at home. 
  3. District Attorneys and judges use their discretion to change the pre-trial status of incarcerated individuals, decline prosecuting cases, and avoid setting cash bail.
  4. NYC must ensure that no new people are sent to Rikers Island, and instead are placed in safer facilities.

All of us are responsible for this crisis and have the power to take action today. New York State and the City must work in collaboration to immediately reduce the number of incarcerated individuals on Rikers Island and ensure no individual is forced to live in the current conditions.

With Gratitude,

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi

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