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Statement from the Katal Center on Budget Hearing Held by the New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, March 8, 2024

Contact:  Yonah Zeitz, yonah@katalcenter.org | (347) 201-2769

Follow on Twitter/X @KatalCenter | #ShutRikers | #CutShutInvestNY

Statement from the Katal Center on Budget Hearing Held by the New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice 

New York, NY: Today, the New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice held its Budget and Oversight Hearing on the Department of Correction’s Preliminary Budget. In an unusual step, the Council Speaker, Adrienne Adams, attended the hearing. This follows the Mayor’s budget director announcing earlier this week that the city will not close Rikers by 2027 – the legally mandated deadline. Katal testified at the hearing, and issued this statement.

Statement by Melanie Dominguez, Lead Organizer at the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice: 

“Mayor Adams’s backward approach to public safety is to approach nearly every problem with more cops and putting more people in cages. The city is currently spending $556,539 a person per year to incarcerate someone at Rikers, and the Adams administration is planning to incarcerate an additional 800 people this year at a price tag of nearly half a billion dollars, while cutting $28 million in funding for alternatives to incarceration, supervised release, and reentry. Once again, Black, brown, and low-income communities are confronted with a budget that will further dismantle the social safety, tear apart families through increased incarceration, and stymie efforts to shut down Rikers.

This is outrageous, irresponsible, and clearly untenable. The mayor’s budget is morally bankrupt and shows he has no intention to shut down Rikers, by 2027 or by any date. We reject the mayor’s callous budget proposal and demand a budget for New Yorkers that will cut the jail population, shut down Rikers, and invest in real the community safety our communities need and deserve, with housing, health care, education, and jobs.” 

Background:

At Rikers, violence is out of control. At least 30 people have died in city jails since Mayor Adams took office. The dysfunction and mismanagement of the jails and the Department of Correction has intensified under Adams. The Mayor’s current “jail-first” approach to the crisis at Rikers is centered on sending more low-income, Black, and brown New Yorkers to cages there, subjecting them to dangerous and life-threatening conditions. The jail population is now over 6,200, and there were about 5,000 people in city jails when Adams became mayor. The Adams administration is planning for the city’s jail population to go up to 7000 this year – adding another 800 people to the city’s jail population. This will, using the Comptroller’s figures, cost nearly half a billion dollars. 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 will have a detrimental effect on the most marginalized communities in the city.

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