Statement from JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins Regarding de Blasio Administration Announcement on Feasibility Study to Move People with Serious Health Needs Off of Rikers Island

March 21, 2019

The #CLOSErikers campaign is encouraged by the de Blasio administration’s decision to take this first step of moving people with serious health needs off of Rikers Island and into appropriate therapeutic settings with the appropriate health staff – getting us closer to the closure of Rikers. We congratulate our fellow #CLOSErikers members and partners on this moment, for being relentless in demanding harm reduction and all forms of alternatives to incarceration in order to decarcerate New York City.

Ultimately we will measure the success of the city’s next steps based on how many people are removed from detention and on what this process does to help heal our communities. We reiterate our campaign demand that the Department of Correction not manage any new alternatives and that the therapeutic settings be placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and NY Health + Hospitals. #CLOSErikers members demand a system in which diversions from and alternatives to incarceration are available as the first option for as many people as possible. The pain and harm in our communities derives from trauma, complex socioeconomic issues, and mass criminalization. Incarceration must not be the first or only course of action when someone is arrested or accused.

Medical, mental health, and dependency treatment, including prenatal and maternity care as well as gender-affirming treatment for transgender and gender non-conforming people, must be available without justice involvement and must happen outside of jails in the most appropriate health settings. Programs for young people, homeless people, and veterans must also happen outside of the system.

#CLOSErikers leaders demand justice reinvestment as outlined in our #buildCOMMUNITIES platform that encompasses several public health interventions including to:

  1. Provide free, quality, community-based mental health services that are preventative and responsive to mental health crises and provided outside of the carceral system, prioritizing peers (people with lived experience) and local community members in paid roles;

  1. Expand effective housing options for people with acute mental illness and other supportive housing needs;

  1. Support and expand prosocial programs like clubhouses with supportive employment, which do not require individuals to be in active recovery;

  1. Further invest in harm reduction.

Closing Rikers will shrink the criminal legal system and jail capacity and will save the City at least $1.6 billion annually. Additionally, we propose reallocating funds from the $7.3 billion now budgeted for the Department of Corrections, NYPD, Department of Probation, and District Attorneys to fully resource community needs.

Our justice reinvestment platform is at:


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