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Katal New York Update- March 24, 2023

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Katal Testifies at New York City Council Budget Hearing

Katal members and staff at yesterday’s New York City Council Budget Hearing (Courtesy of City & State)

Yesterday, the New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice held its Budget and Oversight Hearing on the Preliminary Budget of the Department of Correction. In an unusual step, the Council Speaker Adrienne Adams chaired the hearing. In recent weeks, Speaker Adams has forcefully called for the closure of Rikers. Our members, interns, and staff attended yesterday’s hearing to demand that the City move forward with plans to close Rikers Island Jail Complex and invest in real community safety: housing, health care, education, and jobs. 

Katal leaders, members, interns, and staff at yesterday’s New York City Council Budget Hearing 

At the start of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections testimony, we stood up to protest Mayor Adams priorities of sending more people to Rikers and wrecking closure efforts. At Rikers, violence is at an all-time high. And today, Rikers is the deadliest it has been in 25 years. Yet, the mayor’s current approach to the crisis on Rikers is centered on sending more low-income, Black, and brown New Yorkers to cages there, subjecting them to dangerous and life-threatening conditions. All while the mayor is proposing deep cuts to essential programs across the city – including mental health services, legal services, summer youth employment, homelessness services, housing, libraries, universal 3K, and much more.

This is unacceptable. His proposed budget will have a detrimental effect on the most marginalized communities in the city and move us further away from shuttering Rikers.

Katal leaders, members, interns, and staff at yesterday’s New York City Council Budget Hearing 

Our lead organizer Melanie Dominguez testified at the hearing and called on the City Council to hold the mayor accountable. She called on the Council to refuse passing any budget without getting from Mayor Adams concrete and clear plans on how he intends to fulfill the City’s commitment to close Rikers no later than 2027. See Katal’s full testimony to the Criminal Justice Committee here.

Here is the statement we released following yesterday’s budget hearing:

“Once again, Black, brown, and low-income communities are confronted with a budget that will further dismantle the social safety net in our neighborhoods and tear apart our families through incarceration. Mayor Adams wants to approach every problem with more cops and putting more people in cages. We know the mayor’s Giuliani-era approach undermines public safety and will lead to Rikers remaining open. Cutting $33 million from libraries while planning to send 1,100 more people to Rikers at a cost of half a BILLION is a perfect illustration of this mayor’s backward priorities. Our communities deserve much much better. We reject the mayor’s ridiculous austerity budget proposal and demand a budget that will move the city closer to closing Rikers and invests in our communities so we can thrive and prosper.”

For more information and to learn how to get involved, reach out to Melanie at  or by phone at (516) 588-0127.

Outreach in Brownsville to Close Rikers 

Our Policy Fellow, Ricky Forde, speaking with community members in a NYHCA building 

This week, ahead of yesterday’s city council hearing, we were out door-knocking in Brownsville. We spoke with community members and directly impacted people about our #CutShutInvestNY campaign to shut down Rikers and invest in our communities. We talked to community members who had been on Rikers in the 90’s and still see the same violent and inhumane conditions still playing out in our jail system today. This is wrong, but we can fix it. 

Sign our online petition to demand NYC reduces the jail population and shuts down Rikers once and for all.

For more information reach out to Melanie at or by phone at (516) 588-0127.

Katal Quotes of the Week

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

These are some of the quotes we’re thinking about this week.”I believe unconditionally in the ability of people to respond when they are told the truth. We need to be taught to study rather than to believe, to inquire rather than to confirm.” — Septima Poisette Clark

“Poverty isn’t simply the condition of not having enough money. It’s the condition of not having enough choice and being taken advantage of because of that. When we ignore the role that exploitation plays in trapping people in poverty, we end up designing policy that is weak at best and ineffective at worst.” –Matthew Desmond, “Why is poverty in America so intractable?”

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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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