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Katal New York Update- January 12, 2023

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Start of Session, State of State, and Statewide Call 

Last week, the 2023 legislative kicked off and on Tuesday Governor Hochul gave her 2023 State of the State address where she laid out her priorities for the year.  During the address, she called for historic investments in housing and mental health, as well as raising the minimum wage to account for inflation. We applaud her for this, however, she also called for further rollbacks to bail reform that will lead to more low-income, Black, and brown New Yorkers being unjustly incarcerated pretrial.

Today, we held our January Statewide Criminal Justice Reform call with nearly 100 people calling in from across the state. Our lobbyist provided updates from Albany and spent extra time discussing the State of the State, staff shifts, and new committee assignments. We also heard from groups leading campaigns to clear criminal convictions, release older and aging people from prison, selecting a new Chief Judge in the Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court), and end forced prison labor in NY. 

If you would like to present on the Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call, or you have any questions, please contact Yonah Zeitz, at

Katal at the Multi-Faith Conference to End Mass Incarceration

Thursday morning plenary speakers: Rabbi Stefanie Kolin, Donna Hylton, gabriel sayegh, Rev. Winnie Varghese

This week, Katal attended the  2nd National Multi-Faith Conference on Ending Mass Incarceration held at two historic locations in Atlanta, GA:  Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King served as pastor; and The Temple, the oldest Jewish synagogue in Atlanta. The opening plenary of Day 2, held at The Temple, was “What are faith leaders and communities doing to end mass incarceration?”  The speakers on the plenary included our co-executive director, gabriel sayegh; Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn; Donna Hylton of A Little Piece of Light; and Rev. Winnie Varghese of Atlanta’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The discussion focused on lessons learned from the fight to close Rikers Island Jail Complex. We thank the conference organizers for inviting us to participate! Check out the conference website for more details.

Upcoming Close Rikers Phone Banking Session

As we enter the new year, the conditions at Rikers continue to deteriorate and Mayor Adams has abandoned the City’s plan to close Rikers. This is unacceptable. The City must shut down Rikers once and for all.  Want to get engaged in the fight?  Join us next Thursday, January 19th from 5:00-6:00 pm via Zoom for our first Close Rikers Phone Banking Session of the year! We’ll be speaking with community members across the city about the need to shut down Rikers and invest in communities. Register for the session here!

To learn more please reach out to our senior community organizer Melanie at (516) 588-0127 or 

ICYMI: Katal End of Year Wrap

As we step into 2023 and the fights ahead, we’re also reflecting on the past year – the challenges we faced, the accomplishments, some losses, and, fortunately, some victories. Katal marked its sixth anniversary, and in many ways, we’ve really come into our own. In 2022, we transformed parole and got people free, organized to provide incarcerated people from COVID-19, developed emerging leaders in the movement through our flagship Building Leading and Organizing Capacity (BLOC), and much more. Check out our full 2022 wrap-up here

Katal Quotes of the Week

These are some of the quotes we’re thinking about this week.

To be of use 

–By Marge Piercy

The people I love the best

jump into work head first

without dallying in the shallows

and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element,

the black sleek heads of seals

bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,

who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,

who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge

in the task, who go into the fields to harvest

and work in a row and pass the bags along,

who are not parlor generals and field deserters

but move in a common rhythm

when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.

But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.

Greek amphoras for wine or oil,

Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums

but you know they were made to be used.

The pitcher cries for water to carry

and a person for work that is real.from Circles on the Water

For printing and distribution, download the Katal Weekly Update PDF version.

Katal works to strengthen the people, policies, institutions, and movements that advance equity, health, and justice. Join us: web, Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook! Email: Phone: 646.875.8822.

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