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Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Citizens Union
 

Rikers Island

Rikers Island

  • melinda katz ribbon mass bail out

    (photo: Office of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz [CJ])


    The Mass Bail Out action is currently underway, attempting to post bail for women and youth on Rikers Island and in city jails throughout New York. At last count, there were about 243 women held in jail because they cannot afford bail -- not because they’ve been proven guilty of their charges. We think this is an incredible and necessary effort rooted in the quest for justice. 

    The only legal reason to hold a person on bail is to ensure they

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  • whats the data point


    What's The [Data] Point? Episode 52 -- 5,000, with Liz Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]

    glazer elizabeth pod...

  • rikers renditions

    Jail space rendering via "Justice in Design"


    The first part of the plan is clear: the jails on Rikers Island will be closed. Less

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  • Rikers jails to jobs

    On Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Judith is a newly-minted head chef. She had previously been a line cook, and was nervous about interviewing for a job running her own kitchen, but decided to take the plunge after some convincing. When it came time to speak to the hiring manager, Judith, in her own self-assessment, “killed it.”

    Before Judith was head chef, before she was a line cook, before she knew kitchen skills, she was incarcerated. But it was her time in “Rosie,” the Rose M. Singer women’s jail on Rikers Island, that placed

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  • mxm logo

    Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits


    June 5, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Criminal Justice Reform in New York

    fortune society reps for 277

    The Fortune Society is on the front lines in the fight to keep people out of jail, help those leaving jail successfully reenter larger society, advocate for criminal justice reforms, and make sure that

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  • De Blasio Rikers Bronx Jail

    Mayor de Blasio on Rikers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Closing Rikers Island jails is the right decision for New York City, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of a thriving community. The Concourse neighborhood in the West Bronx has experienced a renaissance in recent years. Densely packed blocks of tenants and homeowners, public and parochial schools, libraries and mom-and-pop shops surround a glut of municipal uses. Shoehorning a 25-story, 1,500-bed jail into this neighborhood would be a significant and lasting mistake, one that would

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  • mayor depart cc ponte rikers island

    (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The City of New York, like many cities and states across the country, profits from people experiencing poverty who come into contact with the criminal justice system. New York imposes a plethora of fees on persons charged with and/or convicted of a crime or minor infraction, ranging from a fee to support the DNA Bank, to an incarceration fee, to a fee for parole or probation.

    Among the most egregious of these fees involve phone calls in New York City jails. New York City

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  • Keith Powers Rikers Island

    City Council Member Keith Powers (photo: John McCarten)


    Last week, members of the New York City Council’s Committee on Criminal Justice toured Rikers Island to see for themselves the conditions at the problem-plagued jail complex, which is slated for closure within the next ten years. It was the first visit for the new chair of the committee, Council Member Keith Powers, who spoke with Gotham Gazette about what he and his colleagues saw, their conversations with detainees and corrections officers, and the issues it moved him to

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  • Bronx jail site NYPD tow pound

    Planned Bronx jail site (photos: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


    When Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced last week that they’d reached a deal to speed up the closure of Rikers Island by creating or expanding jail facilities in every borough except Staten Island, it seemed to be a clear sign of a productive partnership between the administration and local elected officials.

    The mayor and speaker made the announcement at a news conference at City Hall, alongside four Council members -- Diana Ayala, Karen

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  • whats the data point


    What's The Data Point? Episode 22 -- 10, with Michael Jacobson [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]

    jacobson wtdp w carol ben

    Michael Jacobson is the executive director of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance and is involved in efforts to close the Rikers Island jail complex. Previously, he

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  • martin 10 years sucks via close rikers

    Glenn Martin & JustLeadershipUSA (photo: @GlennEMartin)


    New Yorkers depend on City Council hearings to hold agencies accountable and to demand transparency from the mayor’s administration. On Monday, what the City Council members of the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee got instead was a dismissive attitude cushioned in lofty rhetoric from a mayor’s office that seems unwilling or unable to make closing the jails on Rikers Island a priority.

    Time after time, representatives from Mayor Bill de

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  • de Blasio Rikers jail

    Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Due to the work many have done to illuminate the dehumanization and torture rampant on Rikers Island, city officials are finally proposing tangible steps to shut it down. This Monday, December 4, the New York City Council will hear testimony on progress being made toward closing the Rikers Island jails. Much of the discussion around closing Rikers jails, sure to continue Monday, centers on reducing the overall jail population in the city, but also on replacing available jail

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  • mmv hearing john mccarten city council

    Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    [Note: this article has been updated based on fluctuations in the City Council calendar]

    A flurry of oversight hearings are filling the City Council calendar as the Council enters its final month of the four-year session, most notably a hearing slated to address controversies over NYCHA’s falsified lead inspection reports, a hearing to discuss the city’s progress in closing Rikers Island jails, and a hearing on integrating the city's

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  • faulkner stringer comptroller debate election

    Faulkner, left, and Stringer, at the Comptroller debate (photo via @NYCVotes)


    It appears that a relatively small number of people watched the lone debate in the election for New York City Comptroller, which occurred on Tuesday, October 17 between incumbent Democrat Scott Stringer and his Republican challenger, Michel Faulkner. It is one of three citywide races, along with those for Mayor and

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  • Andrew Cuomo

    Gov. Cuomo at an update prison (Governor's Office)


    Anyone following New York City politics knows about JustLeadershipUSA’s mission to close the jails at Rikers Island. In less than a year, the #CLOSErikers campaign successfully pressured Mayor Bill de Blasio to commit to shuttering the jail complex. It is no longer a question of if Rikers will close, but when. But the campaign has always known that

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    Governor Cuomo at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora (photo: Governor's Office Flickr)


    In much the same way that the movement to end stop-and-frisk policing eventually became a rallying cry for political hopefuls, so, too, has the appeal to close the Rikers Island jail complex now become de rigueur among New York City elected officials. Where though is the corresponding clarion call to close Attica, Sing Sing, or any number of New York State’s brutal and obsolete prisons?

    The

    de blasio rikers ponte officer

    Mayor de Blasio on Rikers Island (photo: Mayor's Office)


    Mayor de Blasio's announcement that the city intends to close Rikers Island jails in 10 years has met a mainly celebratory response, even from seasoned criminal justice reformers. We advise that they, after years of good work in exposing the debilitating and sometimes brutal conditions in the Rikers jails, take a deep breath and apply a critical eye.

    The mayor's broad plan seems at least in part based on the recommendations of a blue-ribbon commission chaired by former

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  • de Blasio Rikers

    De Blasio at Rikers (photo: Mayor's Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that he is putting into motion a planning process to close the jails on Rikers Island. The mayor, a first-term Democrat up for re-election this fall, was pulled somewhat begrudgingly to the politically- and fiscally-tenuous position by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who called for Rikers to be closed in her 2016 State of the City speech and formed a commission to create a plan to do so. That commission, led by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, is set to

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  • Cuomo prison break

    Gov. Cuomo at Dannemora correctional facility (photo: Governor's Office)


    Last week, State Senator Jesse Hamilton mailed a flier to his constituents strongly denouncing broken windows policing. The senator, who represents Crown Heights and surrounding neighborhoods in Brooklyn, called on the city to end arrests for minor quality-of-life offenses that “are often used to police black and brown bodies.”

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  • de Blasio rikers ponte officers

    On Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    There is an ongoing conversation in New York about how to fix the bail system that many agree is broken, keeping too many poor people in jail after they are arrested for low-level nonviolent offenses but cannot afford to post bond and, at times, allowing individuals back onto the street who are prone to violence but able to pay bail. Efforts at reform have been full of fits and starts.

    About a month ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced measures to make

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  • Ponte Rikers de Blasio

    Commissioner Ponte, the author, & Mayor de Blasio (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Today, the New York City Department of Correction formally ended the practice of punitive segregation for young adults ages 19 through 21 years old, resulting in the complete elimination of punitive segregation, which some call solitary confinement, for inmates ages 16 through 21 in our custody. This is an unprecedented milestone in New York State correctional history and, even more important, across the nation. To date, no other city or state has

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  • Martin Close Rikers

    Glenn Martin & others rally to #CLOSErikers (via JustLeadershipUSA)


    For years, New Yorkers have been barraged by stories of violence and corruption on Rikers Island. On Saturday, September 24, hundreds of New Yorkers -- including people who have spent time on Rikers Island and their families; criminal justice reform activists; faith leaders; and elected officials -- will march together and demand that Mayor de Blasio #CLOSErikers.

    Led by

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  • MMV SOTC bail fund story

    Mark-Viverito delivers her State of the City (photo: William Alatriste)


    Last year, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled her plan for a fund that would cover bail for poor individuals charged with low-level criminal offenses who would otherwise be forced to wait in a city jail for their court date. The Council dedicated $1.4 million of budget funds to back the project, which is nearing

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  • week in review bus readers

    photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


    Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday March 4, 2016

    PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Mayor de Blasio and City Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr. visit Bed-Stuy businesses, via William Alatriste;

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  • week in review bus readers

    photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


    Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday February 19

    PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Mayor de Blasio celebrates the launch of the LinkNYC wifi hubs, via The Mayor's Office; Governor Cuomo rallies to promote paid

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