JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) launched the #CLOSErikers campaign in 2016 and was a leading voice and resourcer in a coalition of more than 100 organizations. We led multiple demonstrations, gave legislative testimony, and published op-eds and succeeded in drawing the public’s attention to the overcrowding, terrible conditions, and endemic violence that plagued the jail. JLUSA’s Founder was appointed to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, charged with making recommendations for the closure of the facility. In 2019, the New York City Council voted to close the Rikers Island jail complex, and replace it with four smaller borough-based jails.
Under JLUSA’s leadership, the #CLOSErikers Campaign developed a #buildCOMMUNITIES platform issued on Martin Luther King Day in 2019. The platform was based on input from a series of community forums and from more than 30 partner organizations and called for public investments outside of the criminal legal system. Demands focused on public health, housing, employment and economic development, education and schools, community programs and services, and conflict transformation.