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 Katal Center Responds to Adams Administration Statement About Rikers

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Thursday,  May 16, 2024

Contact: Yonah Zeitz, • 347-201-2769

Follow on Twitter/X @KatalCenter • #ShutRikers #CutShutInvestNY

 Katal Center Responds to Adams Administration Statement About the Borough-Based Jail Plan, the Delayed Construction Timelines, and Shutting Down Rikers 

 Statement by the Katal Center 

New York, NY: Today, the Mayor Eric Adams’s administration via spokesperson Liz Garcia released a statement questioning the 2019 plan to shut down Rikers. This follows news that two of the borough-based jail’s construction timelines will run until 2031—four years after the legally mandated deadline to close Rikers.

Statement from gabriel sayegh, Co-Executive Director of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice: “It has become painfully clear that Mayor Adams does not intend to shut down Rikers Island Jail Complex. This mayor has instead shamefully worked to keep Rikers open and send more people to be jailed there, even as the facility descends further and further into absolute chaos. That is why the federal courts are now considering taking over control of Rikers.

In 2019, after years of organizing by community groups and advocates, the City passed laws to close Rikers by 2027. While candidate for mayor, Eric Adams stated he would follow through with the plan to close Rikers. But as mayor, Adams has refused to abide by practically every legal and process benchmark for that closure plan, making closure by 2027 practically impossible. And yet, when asked by press about the 2027 closure plan the mayor and his spokespeople insist that the mayor will ‘follow the law.’ As is now familiar to New Yorkers, what Mayor Adams says too often doesn’t match what Mayor Adams does.

If Mayor Adams was serious about following the law, then we’d see efforts underway now to follow the 2027 closure plan. The city need not wait, must not wait, for the Lippman Commission to come up with a new plan. It is not the Lippman Commission’s responsibility to close Rikers, nor is it within their power to do so, and they should not allow themselves to be used by this mayor for political cover.

There is already a plan in place now, one with legal mandates – the 2027 closure plan. The responsibility and duty to follow that plan lies with Mayor Adams. He has simply chosen to ignore it. That is alarming to New Yorkers, and should be profoundly alarming to City Council, who is, right now, holding hearings on the city budget. The mayor wants to cut funds to libraries, UPK, alternatives to incarceration and reentry services, mental health care, and more – the very things that produce public safety in our city. The Council must reject the mayor’s jail-first approach and hold the mayor accountable to closing Rikers. The goals are clear: cut jail population and cut the budgets used for caging people, shut down Rikers, and invest in real community safety – housing, health care, education, jobs.”

About the Katal’s Shut Rikers campaign: #ShutRikers is a campaign of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice. Katal and our allies are working to cut the correctional populations and the budgets used for caging people; shut down Rikers Island; and invest in real public safety: housing, health care, education, and jobs.


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