New Year, Let’s Go!
Looking Back on Katal’s 2019
It’s a new year; 2020 is going to be defined by one major challenge after another. And we’re ready.
We kicked off last year with our members and allies, fighting against mass incarceration and the broken criminal legal systems in Connecticut and New York. In Connecticut, we push-backed against more drug war criminalization. We published our Connecticut Criminal Justice Reform Field Scan, and launched a new coalition, Healthy & Just CT. We challenged lawmakers to listen to community voices in the fight for justice. In New York, we continued to fight for real bail reform in New York – and we won. In April, working with our allies, we passed one of the most progressive bail reform packages in the United States (we wrote about it, here and here). And in both states, we continued our fight to end overdose deaths and promote harm reduction solutions.
The Katal team including Kenyatta Thompson, Erin Corbett, and Dajuan Wiggins, facilitating our first Connecticut Community Conversation on Harm Reduction in New Haven.
In New York City, this fall, after a long fight, Katal and our #CLOSErikers allies secured a “YES” vote by NYC Council on the plan to close Rikers Island Jail Complex, dramatically shrink the detention system in NYC, and replace facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Additionally, the closure-coalition won a package of nearly $400 million in investments to support local communities and expand justice reforms like alternatives to incarceration. This is a transformative victory — but it’s not without controversy. We produced the Making Sense of Rikers campaign memo to highlight the dynamics playing out in the field.
The Katal team including organizers Shaka Colon and Cedric Fulton, alongside Katal members and leaders tabling at the Wayside Outreach Development Health Fair in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Throughout the year, we worked with our members in Hartford, Albany, and New York City to build power and develop leadership. In Connecticut, we continued our work developing organizers with our monthly BLOC organizer roundtables – Building Leadership and Organizing Capacity. And in Albany and New York City, we continued our leadership development work with our members. And we closed out the year with our co-executive directors publishing their op-ed, Grassroots Movements are Needed to End Mass Incarceration, sparking a public conversation about making policy reforms more durable by investing in grassroots organizing.
Juneteenth for Justice, 2019 | Groups including Katal, JustLeadershipUSA, Start SMART NY, and more gather in the War room at the Capitol in Albany for a rally and speakout demanding immediate action from lawmakers.
In the year ahead, we will face new opportunities and new challenges — and with your support, we’ll continue moving together toward this North Star of health, equity, and justice for all.
The Katal Team –
Kenyatta, Erin, Yan, Cedric, Dajuan, Shaka, Lorenzo, and gabriel