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Statement of JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins
NEW YORK — Today, Mayor de Blasio announced a revised plan to move forward with closing Rikers Island — even in the face of budget constraints related to the pandemic. JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins issued the following statement in response:
“We applaud the mayor’s commitment to moving forward to close Rikers Island. Every day that Rikers remains open equals horrific human suffering and harm — including death. The plan to shutter Rikers includes the construction of four community-based jails. Not only will the capacity of those jails lower the city’s bed count, they will also provide incarcerated people with the dignity that they deserve, in the form of more access to their attorneys and family members. That access will help reduce abuse, strengthen legal defense and allow them to stay connected to their families.
“The pandemic has made incarceration in city jails even more lethal — making the need to close Rikers and reduce jail populations even more urgent. Thus, we also urge the mayor and the City Council to continue to work to reduce incarceration and increase investments in resources like housing, healthcare, employment and education — in line with our #buildCOMMUNITIES platform.
“Opponents of constructing community jails have formed an uncomfortable and unfortunate alliance with the NIMBY (not in my backyard) movement to keep incarcerated people out of their communities and out of sight. Incarcerated people on Rikers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. We will not bow to those who want to keep incarcerated people shunted away.
We will not allow those who act in bad faith to subvert humanitarian efforts to stop the abuses on Rikers Island. As a formerly incarcerated person and someone who has visited Rikers, I know that the moral high ground belongs to those who are working to close Rikers.”