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NYC Public Advocate, with Support from the Chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice, Re-Introduces Council Resolution 183

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Contact: Yonah Zeitz, yonah@katalcenter.org • 347-201-2769

Follow on X/Twitter @KatalCenter • #ShutRikers

NYC Public Advocate, with Support from the Chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice, Re-Introduces Council Resolution 183, Calling on the Federal Courts to Appoint an Independent Receiver at Rikers 

Call for Federal Courts to Take Action at Rikers Supported By Over 60 Community and Advocacy Groups, Former Correction Commissioners, Federal and State Prosecutors, and Dozens of City and State Legislators 

Statement by Katal Center 

New York, NY: During last week’s stated meeting, the New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams re-introduced a city council resolution – Resolution 183 – that expresses a loss of confidence in the New York City Department of Correction to manage the New York City jails safely and calls on the federal courts to immediately appoint a receiver to improve conditions and save lives. The chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice, Sandy Nurse, is the first sponsor of the resolution. Last session, this resolution secured 18 City Council co-sponsors. 

Since Mayor Adams took office, Rikers has been mired in worsening, overlapping crises. With violence spiking and dysfunction reigning at the Department of Correction, at least 30 people have died in NYC jails under Mayor Adams. The DOC has failed to improve the conditions at Rikers as required under the federal consent decree, and the Adams administration has sought to hide these problems from the federal courts and the public. These, and a myriad of other problems, have prompted the federal courts to begin serious consideration of taking control of city jails away from Mayor Adams and appointing an independent federal receiver. 

While calls for a federal receiver have circulated for some time, widespread support for a federal receiver has grown dramatically since 2022 (see full list of supporters here). Many elected leaders in New York have called for a federal receiver, including NY Attorney General Letitia James, Comptroller Brad Lander, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and over two dozen state legislators. Federal prosecutors, former DOC commissioners, correctional experts, nearly 70 community groups, advocates, and service providers are also all calling for the federal courts to appoint an independent receiver at Rikers. 

This Friday, March 8th, the New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice will hold a preliminary budget hearing for the Department of Correction. While the conditions at Rikers are dire and violence is out of control, the Adams administration continues increasing the jail population at a price tag of $556,539 per year per person. 

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, said: “Rikers remains in a state of crisis for people on both sides of the bars, and multiple administrations have seemed unwilling or unable to create change on the island now or to close it down quickly enough. While receivership carries many of its own challenges, we can’t wait to see conditions worsen and harm compound.”

Yonah Zeitz,  Director of Advocacy of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice, said: “The situation at Rikers has long past the point of crisis. And instead of working to close Rikers, Mayor Adams has done nearly everything he can to send more people to be jailed there while simultaneously cutting essential services and creating holes in the social safety net. Until Rikers is shut down, every effort must be made to improve the conditions for the people at Rikers, those detained there and those who work there. Given that Mayor Adams has fought against transparency, has fought against accountability, and has tried to hide problems from the public, the city, and the federal courts, it’s time for more drastic action. That is why we support this resolution calling on the federal courts to appoint an independent receiver. We thank Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Criminal Justice Committee Chair Sandy Nurse for their leadership and call on all council members to support this resolution. The council can take concrete steps to relieve suffering at Rikers by taking immediate action and passing Resolution 183.”

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