For those who might have missed it, David Rothenberg, the founder of the Fortune Society and a respected advocate for criminal justice reform wrote a letter to the Editor of the New York Times that was published on June 13, 2015.
The letter was short and to the point, and focused on the tragic suicide of Kalief Browder, a young man who spent three years in jail in New York City's notorious Rikers Island Jail for a crime he didn’t commit, and was beaten and put in solitary confinement. The abuse, along with the other horrors Rikers is known for, left Browder with deep psychological wounds
Rothenberg condemns New York City for not having for not having a reintegration plan in place for Browder, and the thousands who came before him, and are coming after him.
Below is Rothenberg’s thought provoking letter to the Editor. Reentry Central hopes his words with spur others across the country to prevent more tragedies by putting in place essential reentry plans in all jails and prisons.
“To the Editor:
The sad death of Kalief Browder should have taught us a lesson, but the criminal justice system plods on, impervious to continuing reality and injustices that define it. Two prisoners escape, and a thousand New York State workers are hunting for them.
A hundred prisoners will be released through the front doors this week, returning to New York City, but the state has no re-entry plan for them, other than a list of parole warnings.
When Kalief Browder left Rikers after three years three years of beatings and solitary confinement, the city had no plan for him. We paid at least $68,000 a year to hold him in jail, but no state or city support system was provided upon release.
Mr. Browder was unable to overcome the trauma inflicted upon him by an unjust system. It has happened before, and it will probably happen again because the prison system is broken and the court system is stacked against the poor.”
David Rothenberg, New York