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what’s cooking at katal: a letter from katal’s co-executive directors

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As we expand our work in Connecticut and New York to end mass incarceration and the drug war, we’re building new partnerships and pivoting to tackle new challenges. To gear up for legislative advocacy in 2018, in the months ahead we’re pulling together a series of events in both CT and NY related to bail reform, ending mass incarceration, pre-arrest diversion, and more. We’re using a harm reduction approach to organize neighborhoods and communities around issues of public health and public safety. Our membership base is growing, and we’re on the move.

Statewide Reform in Connecticut: Over the last 20 years, Connecticut has become national leader in criminal justice reform. These reforms are the result of vigorous community led campaigns advancing smart policy making. But mass incarceration and the war on drugs still endure. To truly achieve just, equitable outcomes for health and safety in every community in Connecticut, much more needs to be done. Join us on Tuesday, December 12th in Hartford to discuss the history and future of reform in CT – register here.

Closing Rikers Island, Advancing Statewide Reform in New York: In the summer of 2015, Katal partnered with JustLeadershipUSA to found, build, and direct the #CLOSErikers campaign. In the spring of 2017, Mayor de Blasio finally agreed to shutter the notorious jail facility. Now, to make closure real, dozens of reform steps need to be taken at the city and state level. Toward that end, Katal stepped down this summer from our formal leadership role in the more narrowly defined #CLOSErikers Campaign, and concluded our partnership with JLUSA. We turn our attention now to 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 reducing pretrial detention populations by advancing bail reform and speedy trial reform in the state legislature.

Municipal Strategies for Change – Pre-arrest Diversion: We continue our role as project director for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in Albany, NY. Thus far, over 75 people have been diverted from jail to trauma-informed services. If you haven’t seen it, check out our report on the first year anniversary of the Albany program. We’re working with communities across CT and NY on the development of diversion programs that are rooted in harm reduction, community engagement, and racial equity.

December 4-5: Toward Justice, in Albany, NY: This December 4-5, we’re hosting a symposium in Albany about municipal strategies, like the Albany LEAD program, to address mass incarceration and the opioid overdose crisis. City and county stakeholders from across CT and NY will be in attendance. Details and registration at

The Mechanics of Social Change — JustUs Talks: JustUs Talks are convened by Katal to explore the methods, practices, and experiences of organizing to build community power and transform systems.  Imagine a TED talk combined with an interview by Studs Terkel, all about organizing– that’s JustUs Talks. Our next JustUs talk is in November in Connecticut: new Katal board member, Emery Wright, will discuss his work developing youth leaders in the U.S. South over the last decade. This JustUs Talk is invite-only; let us know if you’re interested in learning more!

Toward justice,

Lorenzo and gabriel, Co-Executive Directors

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