Pressure Grows on New York City Mayor to Close Notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex
Date:  02-16-2017

Each day Rikers admits 211 people into what has been called a culture of violence
From Close Rikers:

For decades, the notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex has been marked by violence and corruption and impervious to substantive reform. The #CLOSErikers campaign, led by JustLeadershipUSA, in partnership with the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice, was formed in 2016 to break the political gridlock and achieve real solutions that are guided by directly impacted communities. 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.

  • Detaining a person at Rikers Island for a year costs New York City $209,000 per year

  • 89% of Rikers Island detainees are Black or Latino. By comparison 53% of New York City residents are Black or Latino

  • 79% of those detained are awaiting trail. The remaining detainees are serving sentences of less than a year.

  • 77,000 New Yorkers cycled through Rikers in 2015, a figure actually down from previous years. Rikers admits an average of 211 detainees per day

  • There are currently more than 10,000 New Yorkers in Department of Correction custody. Approximately 8,000 of these are in Rikers Island facilities.

    "Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly failed to confront a human rights atrocity right in his own backyard. To live up to his own progressive values of justice, fairness, and equality, he must take action and close Rikers now,” said Glenn E. Martin, President and founder of JustLeadershipUSA. “New York City’s reputation as a sanctuary city is tarnished by the ongoing criminalization of thousands of its own residents who suffer unnecessarily in disgraceful and dangerous conditions.”

    The #CLOSErikers campaign has released a TV ad, coinciding with the Mayor's annual State of the City address, calling on de Blasio to shut down the notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex. The ad is the latest move by the #CLOSErikers campaign to bring attention to the problems at Rikers. It juxtaposes Mayor de Blasio’s promises to tackle inequality and make New York more just with his lack of action to close Rikers. The ad will air at primetime on NY1 for four consecutive nights.

    "Rikers cannot be reformed. The problems are so pervasive that the only solution is to shut it down," said Melody Lee, Director of Strategy and Campaigns at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. "By refusing to acknowledge this reality, Mayor de Blasio is failing New Yorkers and failing to live up to his responsibilities in leading a city that is a progressive beacon for the nation. It is time to close Rikers and set an example for the rest of the country."

    Read The Atlantic Magazine interview with Glenn E. Martin here.