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Katal New York Update- July 13, 2023

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Rikers Death Toll Rises to 24
Under Mayor Adams

Rikers is an absolute disaster. New Yorkers deserve safety and justice, not criminalization, racism, and the violence of Rikers. Last week, two more incarcerated people died in the custody of the New York City Department of Correction. This brings the total death toll in city jails under Mayor Adams to 24 – and his administration has shown no willingness to change course.

We put out a statement in response to the horrible news: We call on Mayor Adams to stop the violence and reduce the city’s jail population, shut down Rikers, and invest in true public safety: housing, health care, education, and jobs. 

“The conditions in our city’s jail system are horrific and life-threatening for people incarcerated there and those who work there. Violence at Rikers is out of control. The facilities are run down and dilapidated. Ricky Howard’s death comes days after a monitor’s report criticized the city Department of Correction (DOC) for thousands of sanitation and city health code violations, withholding information, and other serious, dangerous problems. The DOC’s mismanagement and outright lack of care are creating deadly conditions in our city jails.”

Check out the full statement and see news coverage about the recent deaths.

To support the fight to close Rikers, please join us to do outreach this summer. We’ll be hitting doors and speaking with community members about the crisis at Rikers, the need to shut down the jail complex once and for all, and how to get involved! 

To join the fight to shut down Rikers, please reach out to Melanie Dominguez at or 516-588-0127. 

New Scathing Federal Monitor Report
and Upcoming Close Rikers Phone Zap

Rikers is a catastrophe and conditions there are atrocious. Violence is out of control. On Monday, the federal monitor appointed to improve conditions there released a damning report. For the first time, he called on U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain to hold the Adams administration in contempt of a federal consent decree that mandates reforms on Rikers Island. The report maintains that the city, DOC, and DOC Commissioner Louis Molina have failed to implement those reforms to reduce violence and address other serious problems. It outlines numerous incidences of DOC mismanagement that led to violence and other harm to incarcerated people.

It is clear that the DOC and the mayor are unwilling to address the long-standing issues plaguing the jail system. Until Rikers is closed, the federal courts must appoint an independent receiver to take over and improve conditions for people who are detained or employed there. The recent deaths and the monitor’s reports have only heightened calls for a federal receiver. We’re demanding that the New York City Council swiftly pass Resolution 669, introduced by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and call on the federal courts to immediately appoint a receiver to take over Rikers. 

Join us next Wednesday, July 19, from noon to 1 p.m. for our Close Rikers Phone Zap to urge city council members to pass Resolution 669. We’re holding the phone zap over Zoom so we can be in community together and take collective action as a group. Register to join us!

For questions about the phone zap or to join the fight to shut down Rikers, please reach out to Melanie Dominguez at or 516-588-0127. 

#EndOverdoseNY Rally at Governor’s NYC Office

On Tuesday, we joined the End Overdose NY campaign, VOCAL-NY, and people impacted by the drug war outside Governor Hochul’s office to demand that she immediately authorize overdose prevention centers (OPCs) across New York. This is necessary to end the overdose crisis in our state. Opioid-related deaths continue to devastate our communities, and OPCs have proven to be effective in preventing overdose fatalities and providing crucial support services. It’s important that Governor Hochul recognize the urgency of the situation and take prompt action to authorize OPCs. Watch a video of the rally.

Saturday, July 16: Third Annual Suitcase Sunday

Join us this Saturday, July 16, at 11 a.m. at Baisley Pond Park in Southeast Queens for Witness to Mass Incarceration’s third annual Suitcase Sunday. You’ll be able to connect and support businesses and organizations led by formerly incarcerated people. 

We’ll be highlighting our #CloseRikers campaign and discussing opportunities to get involved. Swing by our table to grab some swag and talk with our team. We hope to see you there! 

Got questions? Reach out to or by phone at 516-588-0127.

Katal Quotes of the Week

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

“When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.” — Fannie Lou Hamer

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

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

We can’t do this without you. Please support our work to build leadership and organizing capacity in Connecticut, New York, and beyond. 

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Email: • Phone: 646.875.8822

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