In the summer of 2015, Katal partnered with JustLeadershipUSA and together founded, built, and directed the #CLOSErikers campaign. In the spring of 2017, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio finally agreed to shutter the notorious jail facility. In the wake of the mayor’s announcement, the political circumstances evolved; dozens of reform steps need to be taken at the city and state level to achieve closure. Toward that end, in the summer of 2017, Katal stepped down from our formal leadership role in the more narrowly defined #CLOSErikers Campaign, and concluded our partnership with JLUSA.
We pivoted to focus on the numerous city and state reforms necessary to close Rikers, transform the criminal justice system as a whole, and redefine safety and justice in New York. This includes building community-based pre-arrest diversion programs in various cities, coordinating a statewide network for bail reform (#BailReformNY), pursuing speedy trial reform (#SpeedyTrialNow), and zeroing in on parole and probation reforms to reduce detention and supervision periods.
The summary covers the period of Katal’s co-founding and co-leadership of the campaign, from August 2015 to August 2017, and includes how the campaign got built, what worked well, and reflections on what could have worked better. Our hope is that this summary serves movements in New York City and beyond in the fight to end mass incarceration and build communities.