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an update from the katal co-founders about our first year

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In this issue:

An Update From The Katal Co-Founders About Our First Year

A Short Summary Of Katal’s Work In Our First Year

Advanced Legislation To Fix New York’s Broken Speedy Trial Process

Launch Of The Albany Lead Program

Launch Of The Lead National Support Bureau

Connected Local And Global Drug Policy Reform Efforts – Ungass 2016

Participated In An International Delegation To Europe

Collaboration With The White House And Education Congress

Released Better By Half – Harvard Report

an update from the katal co-founders about our first year

We’re one year old! Katal launched in February 2016 with three big, inter-related goals:

  • Ending mass criminalization, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs.
  • Advancing evidence-based solutions to promote health and safety, eliminate unwarranted racial disparities, and secure equitable outcomes.
  • Building leadership and organizing capacity of community groups, organizers, and advocates to effectively drive and shape changes in systems, policies, and practices.

oneyear.pngEvery day since, we’ve pursued these goals with rigor and tenacity, taking bold action to tackle major problems through innovative strategies and partnerships. Our work has included collaborating with our partner at JustLeadershipUSA to build the #CLOSErikers campaign, launching the Albany Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, establishing the LEAD National Support Bureau with our partners at the Public Defender Association and more. Check out a summary of our first year below!

And we’ve grown. From a founding staff of three, we’re now a team of nearly a dozen, with offices in New York City, Albany, NY and Hartford, CT. We deeply appreciate the support we’ve received this year from our members, partners, funders, and allies. Launching a new organization isn’t easy, and we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you!

We enter into our second year in the midst of an unusual, remarkable time in our nation’s history. We face this moment with great conviction, optimism, and grit, and we look forward to working with you in the year ahead!


Lorenzo Jones, Co-Executive Director

Melody Lee, Director of Strategy & Campaigns

Gabriel Sayegh, Co-Executive Director

a short summary of katal’s work in our first year


In collaboration with our partners at JustLeadershipUSA , we launched #CLOSErikers, a city-wide campaign to shutter the notorious penal colony. In New York City, the infamous Rikers Island Jail Complex has become a symbol of the broken criminal justice system across the United States.  After the public launch of the campaign in April 2016, we now have over 125 organizations signed on as supporters, thousands of New Yorkers have joined our actions, and a growing number of elected officials are now calling for the closure. We know it is not only possible, but necessary for us to reimagine a more fair and just criminal justice system in our City. Check out the campaign website for updates about events and actions, news, pictures, and more.


At our Sept 2016 CLOSErikers March and Rally, a thousand New Yorkers joined us. Including these two young girls – they completed the march and helped make a successfully rally!

advanced legislation to fix new york’s broken speedy trial process

The 6th Amendment to the Constitution promises the right to a speedy trial. But New York is the only state in the country without a true speedy trial law. In New York City, severe court delays are a hallmark of the broken justice system – and thousands of people are detained in jail — pre-trial — for months or even years before they ever get to court. Katal worked with our partners at JustLeadershipUSA and a coalition of groups to pass reform legislation in the NY State Assembly – with strong bipartisan support! As the Senate failed to act, we’re trying again this year.


In 2016, Katal and our partners held a rally at the State Capitol demanding legislators pass legislation to fix the broken speedy trial process in New York.

launch of the albany lead program

In April 2016, Katal served as the project manager, in partnership with stakeholders from all sectors and community leaders, to launch the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in Albany, NY. With LEAD police officers can divert individuals out of the criminal justice system to community-based, harm reduction case management for certain low-level offenses. Albany became the first on the East Coast and third in the country to launch LEAD, and the program is pioneering use of Medicaid related funding to support program.


Press conference launching the Albany LEAD program in Albany, NY, April 1, 2016. Katal Co-Executive Director gabriel sayegh facilitated the press conference. Seated, left to right, are Katal partner Dr. Alice Green, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice;George Penn, representing Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy; Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, and Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox.

launch of the lead national support bureau

In collaboration with our partners at the Public Defenders Association in Seattle, Katal launched the LEAD National Support Bureau to provide technical assistance and resources to LEAD and LEAD-like projects in nearly 40 cities across the United States that are exploring ways to reduce low-level arrests and recidivism. The launch was covered by numerous outlets thanks to a major story by the Associated Press.


connected local and global drug policy reform efforts – ungass 2016

 Last spring, the United Nations convened a Special Session related to drug policy. Known as the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, or UNGASS 2016the meeting was the first time in nearly 20 years that UN members gathered to discuss treaties and conventions related to international drug control.

Katal organized a series of forums and actions in five cities across the country – in, Atlanta, Denver, SeattleChicago, and New York — to link local reform efforts in those cities to the UNGASS 2016 meeting. Human rights advocates from Mexico and Columbia traveled to the U.S. to participate in the national tour, meeting with impacted people, law enforcement, faith leaders, criminal justice reformers and harm reductionists in each city.


The community forum in Atlanta. Katal Co-Executive Director Lorenzo Jones with Alejandro Madrazo Lajous (Faculty of Law of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM)), Emery Wright (Co-Director of Project South in Atlanta), Marcela Tovar (Human rights advocate from Bogotá, Columbia), and Julián Wilches (Former Drug Policy Director for the Columbian Government)


Participant at the Atlanta UNGASS community conversation, March 2016


Katal’s Lorenzo Jones, far left, observes the community conversation in Atlanta between international delegates and mothers from Alabama who lost sons to police violence.

participated in an international delegation to europe

This fall, our staff, along with law enforcement partners and community leaders, attended and presented on multiple panels at the International Law Enforcement and Public Health Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands on LEAD. The delegation also traveled to Belgium and Denmark to meet with local law enforcement, public health, and harm reductionists to learn about and share different public health and safety models.


At the Law Enforcement and Public Heath Conference (LEPH2016) in October, LEAD Bureau team members present on the model. From left to right: Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox; Lisa Daugaard (Public Defender Association); Keith Brown (Director of Health and Harm Reduction at Katal); Seattle Police Captain Deanna Nolette; King County Deputy Sheriff Jim Pugel; Dr. Alice Green (Center for Law and Justice).


The LEAD National Support Bureau Delegation. On left Alexis Briggs (Katal), Lisa Daugaardand Kris Nyrop (Public Defender Association). Back row: Keith Brown, Lorenzo Jones, and garbriel sayegh (Katal), and Charles Touhey (Center for Law and Justice). Middle row: Deana Nollette (Seattle Police Dept.), Dr. Alice Green (Center for Law and Justice), Melody Lee (Katal), and Brendan Cox (Albany Police Chief). Kneeling: King County Deputy Sheriff Jim Pugel.


Katal Co-Executive Director Lorenzo Jones in Copenhagen. This van, operated by the City’s public health service, provides a mobile clinic for supervised drug consumption, serving marginalized populations in the area and improving health and safety.

collaboration with the white house and educating congress

We participated in multiple meetings with the White House, administration officials, and Congress about harm reduction, criminal justice reform, and policing reform. With the growing bipartisan awareness of the problem of mass incarceration and the drug war, there is increasing interest to developing new approaches.


In March 2016, Katal joined our partners at from the Public Defender Association for meetings in D.C. with Administration and Congressionalleaders about Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, including a presentation on LEAD to Democratic and Republican Congressional members and staff. gabriel sayegh, Rep. Paul Tonko, and Kris Nyrop (Public Defender Association).

released better by half – harvard report

We produced the release event at the Harvard Club for the Harvard report, Better by Half: Large-Scale Decarceration While Increasing Public SafetyWritten by Judith Greene, Director of Justice Strategies, and Vincent Schiraldi, Senior Research Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government Program in Criminal Justice Better by Half highlights how New York City was able to cut both incarceration and crime by over half, offering lessons in how other cities and states can move to end mass incarceration while promoting safety.


At the Katal-produced Better by Half launch at the Harvard Club in NYC, panel speakers included Kyung Ji Rhee (Deputy Director of the Center for NuLeadership), Liz Glazer (Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice), Robin Steinberg (Director, Bronx Defenders), Eric Gonzalez (Acting Brooklyn District Attorney), Danielle Sered (Director, Common Justice).

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