Statement from Glenn E. Martin, founder and President of JustLeadershipUSA
“The devastation of mass incarceration knows no geographic boundaries, and neither will JustLeadershipUSA’s advocacy. We are launching the #FREEnewyork campaign to achieve statewide criminal justice reforms that are vital if we want to #CLOSErikers, decarcerate jails throughout the state, and build a safer and more just criminal justice system.
“JustLeadershipUSA is a national organization that exists to build the power and leadership of those who have been most harmed by our jails and prisons and to call out our criminal justice system for the damage that it causes. As someone who has personally experienced the carnage caused by Rikers Island, I am immensely proud of the rapid success of the #CLOSErikers campaign. Many people thought that #CLOSErikers was a ‘noble’ but impossible campaign. We proved them wrong – and it speaks to the power of the people who have been most harmed by Torture Island.
“Today, it’s no longer a question of if Rikers Island will be shuttered, but when. Despite this success, I am well aware that New Yorkers across the state continue to suffer at the hands of our brutal, racist, and deeply broken ‘justice’ system. A majority of people caged in county jails are held outside of New York City. True justice cannot be achieved if we do not boldly call for reform for all New Yorkers.
“To rectify the devastation caused by New York’s jails, we must build an expansive movement that demands systemic reform – reform that is not limited to a person’s zip code. If New York is to drastically reduce the number of people caged in county jails, then we must demand accountability from our elected officials. We must demand nothing short of transformation. Closing Rikers Island and securing the freedom of New Yorkers requires a complete overhaul of our broken bail, speedy trial, and discovery laws. Our elected leaders in Albany must take bold, concrete action. It is not enough for these officials to simply proclaim their ‘support’ for ending mass incarceration. The time for action is NOW.
“That is why JustLeadershipUSA, in partnership with organizations and directly impacted communities from across New York State, has launched #FREEnewyork – a campaign committed to unapologetically advancing real solutions to mass incarceration. New Yorkers demand fundamental change. We will relentlessly hold Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature accountable, and we will not stop until we have achieved the reforms necessary to decarcerate all county jails, close the Rikers Island jail complex, and overhaul New York’s criminal justice system. New Yorkers deserve more, and the time is now.”
– Glenn E. Martin, Founder and President, JustLeadershipUSA
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