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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

Thursday, March 23, 2023

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

Follow on Twitter @KatalCenter | #CutShutInvestNY | #CloseRikers

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 Preliminary Budget of the Department of Correction. In an unusual step, the Council Speaker, Adrienne Adams, attended the hearing. In recent weeks, Speaker Adams has forcefully called for the closure of Rikers. Katal Center members and staff attended today’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, jobs. 

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

“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.”

See Katal’s testimony to the Criminal Justice Committee here

Background:

At Rikers, violence is at an all-time high. Last year, there were a record number of deaths. Today Rikers is the deadliest it has been in 25 years. The dysfunction and mismanagement of the jails and the Department of Correction have intensified. 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.  The jail population is now at 5,917, which constitutes an increase of over 500 people since Adams took office 15 months ago. The mayor is planning for the city’s jail population to go up to 7000 this year – adding another 1,100 people to the city’s jail population. This will, using the Comptroller’s figures, cost approximately 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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