JUSTICE WEEK: “AFTER RIKERS: JUSTICE BY DESIGN”

May 21, 2019 at 5:30 am

In partnership with Public Square Media, we’re kicking off our week-long series of special reports on the city’s plan to close Rikers Island and build smaller, community-based jails. And we’ll give you a revealing look at life after lockup as we premiere “After Rikers: Justice by Design.”

Aired on May 20, 2019. 

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TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS."
CLOSING RICKERS.
AS THE CITY PUSHES THE PLAN TO
CLOSE THE JAIL, WE BRING YOU AN
EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT THE CRIMINAL
JUSTICE SYSTEM.
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PUBLIC
SQUARE MEDIA, WE KICK OFF THE
SPECIAL JUSTICE WEEK SERIES OF
PROGRAMS WITH A LOOK AT LIFE
AFTER LOCK UP.
WE'LL PREMIER THE DOCUMENTARY
"AFTER RICKERS: JUSTICE BY
DESIGN" WHICH EXPLOO -- EXPLORES
PLANS FOR JAIL-BASED BOROUGHS.
CAN THEY ENHANCE JUSTICE WITH
INCREASING PUBLIC SAFETY.
OUR EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON WHAT IS
NEXT AS THE CITY INTENDS TO
SHAKE UP THE SYSTEM IN A POST
RIKERS ISLAND WORLD.
THE SPECIAL JUSTICE WEEK EDITION
OF "METROFOCUS" STARTS NOW.
THIS IS "METRO FOCUS"
BY --
JAMES AND MERYL TISCH, THE
SYLVIA A AND SIMON B. POITA
FOUNDATION.
ROSLYN P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE
ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --
>>> CORPORATE FUNDING FOR
"METROFOCUS" WAS PROVIDED BY
MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR
RETIREMENT COMPANY.
AND BY PSE&G.
SERVING CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING
THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE.
>>> THE MASS INCARCERATION
CRISIS DID NOT BEGIN IN NEW YORK
CITY BUT IT WILL END HERE.
>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
THE SPECIAL EDITION OF
"METROFOCUS."
OUR FIRST JUSTICE WEEK STARTS
TONIGHT.
WE'RE TAKING YOU BEHIND BARS FOR
A REVEALING LOOK AT THE CRIMINAL
JUSTICE SYSTEM IN NEW YORK
CITY'S PUSH TO CLOSE RIKERS
ISLAND.
MAYOR DE BLASIO WANTS TO SHUT
THE LOCK UP WITHIN THE NEXT
DECADE.
THE MAYOR IS BACKING A SCHL BURR
BOROUGH-BASED SMALLER JAILS.
THE MULTIBILLION DOLLAR PROJECT
EARNED PRAISE FROM CRIMINAL
JUSTICE REFORM ADVOCATES BUT
LEFT SOME NEW YORKERS WORRIED.
THIS WEEK WE'RE LOOKING AT THE
DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE ISSUE
INCLUDING THE IMPACT
BOROUGH-BASED JAILS COULD HAVE
ON DETAINEE, NEEDS OF WOMEN IN
DETENTION, AND HOW TO KEEP OUR
CITY SAFE.
WE BEGIN TONIGHT WITH A
BROADCAST FROM THE AIR OF "AFTER
RIKERS ISLAND."
FROM PUBLIC SQUARE MEDIA.
TAKE A LOOK.
§
>> PLOOEPS THOSE WHO CAN'T HELP
THEMSELVES.
HE'S GOT US.
>> WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST HOPES I
HAVE FOR MY DAUGHTER FOR HER TO
UNDERSTAND SHE'S NOT DEFINED BY
MY INCARCERATION.
THE LAST TIME I WAS ARRESTED, I
HAD JUST TURNED 21 YEARS OLD.
MY DAUGHTER, AT THE TIME, WAS
TWO DAYS OLD.
I WAS ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY.
SENT TO RIKERS ISLAND.
THE MINUTE I WALKED THROUGH THE
DOOR, IT SMELLED LIKE DEATH AND
L
LYSOL.
THE LIVING CONDITIONS WE
PROBABLY WOULDN'T ALLOW OUR PETS
TO LIVE IN.
INSECTS.
D
.
>> THERE'S NO FRESH AIR, THERE'S
NO CLEAN WATER, IT'S A HARD
PLACE TO WORK.
ABSOLUTELY.
IT'S AN EVEN HARDER PLACE TO
LIVE.
>> ON ANY GIVEN DAY, SOME 8,000
NEW YORKERS ARE HELD IN JAIL.
THE LARGE MAJORITY AT RIKERS
ISLAND.
ABOUT 3/4 OF THEM ARE SIMPLY
AWAITING THEIR DAY IN COURT.
>> MOST OF THE PEOPLE AT RIKERS
ISLAND HAVE NOT BEEN FOUND
GUILTY OF ANY CRIME YET.
THEY'RE THERE BECAUSE OF THE
PRETILE AND PRESUMED INNOCENT.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF THOSE HAVE
BAIL SET WHICH MEANS THEY CAN'T
MAKE BAIL.
40% OF THE RIKERS ISLAND
POPULATION HAS A MENTAL HEALTH
CONCERN.
MANY ARE HOMELESS.
DRAMATICALLY PEOPLE OF COLOR.
IT'S STUNNINGLY BLACK AND BROWN
WHEN YOU BE INTO THE PLACE.
DISPARITIES ARE RAMPANT.
>> IT CONTAINS EIGHT OF THE 11
JAILS.
IT SITS APART OF THE CITY
SURROUNDED BY THE WATER OF THE
EAST RIVER.
>> THERE'S ONE WAY ON RIKERS
ISLAND.
WE CALL IT THE RIKERS ISLAND
BRIDGE.
YOU HAVE TO GO ACROSS THAT
BRIDGE IN ORDER TO GET TO RIKERS
ISLAND.
THERE'S NO WAY TO GET THERE
OTHER THAN THAT.
>> IT'S ISOLATED.
IT'S HARD FOR STAFF TO GET TO.
LAWYERS DON'T WANT TO GET THERE
BECAUSE IT SUCKS UP A WHOLE DAY
TO ASK A 15 MINUTE QUESTION.
FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE FELT
HUMILIATED IN THEIR EXPERIENCES
IN GETTING THERE AND BACK.
>> YOU HAVE TO GET TO RIKERS
ISLAND, YOU HAVE TO GET ACROSS
THE BRIDGE, YOU HAVE TO GET TO
THE CONTROL FILTER.
YOU HAVE TO WAIT TO BE PROCESSED
THROUGH THE VISIT, AND YOU HAVE
TO WAIT FOR YOUR VISIT.
THIS COULD TAKE HOURS.
FOUR OR FIVE HOURS.
>> PAMELA DRYTON MADE THE
JOURNEY MANY TIMES WHILE HER SON
LAMONT WAS HELD ON RIKERS
ISLAND.
HE WAS THERE FOR ABOUT THREE
YEARS.
THE VISITS ARE VERY IMPORTANT
BECAUSE IT GIVES THEM A SENSE OF
BEING HUMAN BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT
TREATED LIKE HUMAN BEINGS.
THEY'RE NOT.
>> IN 2014, THE U.S. DEPARTMENT
OF JUSTICE FOUND SYSTEMIC ABUSE
IN VIOLATION OF DETAINEES'
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AT RIKERS
ISLAND.
THE CITY WAS ORDERED TO
DISMANTLED THE VIOLENCE-PLAGUED
CULTURE.
>> EVEN AFTER 16-YEAR-OLD THEY
HAVE TO LEARN THE SPEAK THE
LANGUAGE QUICKLY.
>> THE CULTURE FOR THE DETAINEES
AND SOME OF THE CORRECTION
OFFICERS IS ABSOLUTELY KILL OR
BE KILLED.
>> THEY TOLD ME GO GET A KNIFE
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
EVEN IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE VIOLENCE
BEFORE YOU GET TO RIKERS ISLAND,
YOU WILL WHEN YOU GET THERE.
>> MANY DESCRIBE THEIR WORSE
TIME IN JAIL AS THE DAYS THEY
TRAVELED TO COURT.
>> YOU HAVE TO WAKE UP AT 3:00
IN THE MORNING TO SEE A JUDGE AT
1:00 IN THE AFTERNOON.
>> YOU'RE A 19-YEAR-OLD KID
LOCKED UP AT RIKERS ISLAND AND
YOU'RE GOING TO COURT NOT
INFREQUENTLY.
GETTING HANDCUFFED, HAND AND
FOOT WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER YOUNG
MEN AND PUT ON A BUS AND TAKEN
TO COURT.
>> NEW YORK CITY SPENDS $42
MILLION A YEAR TRANSPORTING
DETAINEES TO COURT THROUGHOUT
THE FIVE BOROUGHS WHERE THEY SIT
SHACKLED FOR HOURS WAITING FOR
THEIR CASE TO BE CALLED.
IF IT'S CALLED AT ALL.
>> PEOPLE TAKE PLEA BARGAINS
BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO BE
HANDCUFFED ALL DAY.
IT'S AWFUL.
THE TRAUMA.
THE SLEEP DEPRAVATION, THE POOR
FOOD, THE STRESSES OF BEING
MOVED AND YOU'RE AFRAID.
AND YOU'RE GOING THROUGH A
HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE.
>> AT MINIMUM, AT MINIMUM,
YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO HAVE A
CONSTITUTIONAL LEVEL OF DECENCY
FOR THE PEOPLE IN OUR
ENVIRONMENT.
>> I SPENT ALMOST SEVEN MONTHS
AT RIKERS ISLAND.
RIKERS ISLAND SHOULD BE CLOSED.
RIKERS ISLAND ACTUALLY SHOULD
HAVE BEEN CLOSED DECADES AGO.
IT'S AN INHUMANE ENVIRONMENT.
[ CHANTING ]
>> THE MOVEMENT TO CLOSE RIKERS
ISLAND GAINED MOMENTUM IN THE
LAST DECADE THROUGH THE EFFORTS
OF ACTIVISTS AND DOZENS OF
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
ORGANIZATIONS, INCLUDING JUST
LEADERSHIP USA.
>> NEW YORK CITY, THE MAYOR, THE
COMMUNITY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO
SAY WE'RE GOING TO DISRUPT AND
DISMANTLE THIS CULTURE AND WE'RE
GOING TO REBUILD A HEALTHY
CULTURE.
>> THE CORRECTIONAL GUARDS AND
INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE
INCARCERATED.
>> IN 2017, MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO
MADE A HISTORIC ANNOUNCEMENT.
>> NEW YORK CITY WILL CLOSE THE
RIKERS ISLAND JAIL FACILITY.
THE JAIL POPULATION DECLINED
EVERY SINGLE YEAR SINCE ITS PEAK
IN 1991 AND NEVER WENT BACK UP.
IT HAS BEEN GOING DOWN AND
DURING THAT TIME, CRIME IN NEW
YORK HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOING DOWN.
>> CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM LIKE
SUPERVISED RELEASE, BAIL RELIEF
PROGRAMS, AND REDUCTION IN
ARRESTS HAVE REDUCED THE JAIL
POPULATION.
>> WE DROPPED BELOW 8,000 RIGHT
AROUND THE END OF 2018 FOR THE
FIRST TIME SINCE 1980.
AND THE HOPE IS TO GET DOWN TO
5,000 BEFORE RIKERS ISLAND
CLOSES DOWN.
>> THE PLAN IS TO REPLACE THE
EIGHT JAILS ON RIKERS ISLAND
WITH FOUR NEW COMMUNITY-BAIT
BASED FACILITIES.
THREE WILL BE BUILT ON EXISTING
JAIL SITES ALREADY LOCATED NEAR
COURTHOUSES.
>> BY SPLITTING PEOPLE UP INTO
THE JAILS NEXT TO THEIR
COURTHOUSES, YOU NOT ONLY MAKE
IT EASIER FOR THEM TO ATTEND
THEIR TRIAL IT ITSELF CAN BE A
TRAUMATIC DAY FOR A LOT OF
PEOPLE ON RIKERS ISLAND BUT YOU
MAKE IT SO THEIR FAMILIES CAN
VISIT.
>> THE MAIN BENEFIT OF SERVING
TIME WAS THE ABILITY TO STILL BE
CONNECTED TO MY FAMILY.
THE LOCAL FACILITY AT OHIO WHERE
DEANNA HUSKINS SERVED TIME
FOCUSES PRIMARILY ON
REHABILITATION AND REENTRY.
>> THE PROGRAM WAS TOTALLY
DIFFERENT FROM JUST CUSTODY AND
CONTROL.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU NEED
SPECIFICALLY FOR REENTRY?
HOW DO WE ENSURE THAT YOU RETURN
TO OUR COMMUNITY A BETTER PERSON
THAN WHEN YOU WENT IN.
>> NEW FACILITIES AROUND THE
COUNTRY OFFER EXAMPLES OF HOW
JAIL DESIGN HAS EVOLVED SINCE
RIKERS ISLAND WAS BUILT.
ARCHITECTS NOW UNDERSTAND HOW
BETTER FLOOR PLANS CAN IMPROVE
DETENTION CULTURE AND REDUCE
VIOLENCE.
30 MILES NORTH OF THE CITY,
WESTCHESTER COUNTY REPLACED AN
OLD-STYLE JAIL WITH A NEWER
MODEL OF CORRECTIONAL HOUSING.
>> IT'S DISCONCERTING FOR
SOMEBODY TO GO FROM A COMMUNITY
TO BEING IN A LINEAR CELL BLOCK
WHERE YOU HAVE BARS.
THIS IS WHAT WE CALL DIRECT
SUPERVISION HOUSING.
>> IT CREATES A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
BETWEEN THE DETAINEES AND
BETWEEN STAFF AND DETAINEE.
WAS IT'S ALL BASED ON HUMAN
RELATIONS.
PEOPLE ARE TALKING TO EACH
OTHER.
>> THE OFFICER IS EMBEDDED
WITHIN THE HOUSING COMMUNITY AND
PROGRAMMING ERR OTHER SERVICES
COME ON TO THE BLOCK.
WHETHER IT'S NURSING, MENTAL
HEALTH, EDUCATION, LEGAL
SERVICES.
WE WANT TO DO ALL THAT WITHIN
THE HOUSING AREA.
SO I SAFER AND MORE
COMMUNITY-BASED ENVIRONMENT FOR
STAFF AND OFFENDER.
>> YOU WERE ENGAGED WITH THE
CUSTODY STAFF THAT WAS THERE.
THEY WERE A PART OF THE PROGRAM.
THEY DIDN'T SIT IN A BOOTH OR
BEHIND GLASS.
THEY SAT AT A DESK IN THE MIDDLE
OF THE DAY AREA WHERE YOU WERE.
>> THE BOROUGH JAIL PLAN CALLS
FOR EXPANDING THIS DIRECT
SUPERVISION MODEL THAT IS
ALREADY BEING USED IN SOME
FACILITIES AT RIKERS ISLAND.
>> NOT SURPRISINGLY ENOUGH IT
WORKS.
IF YOU TREAT PEOPLE LIKE HUMAN
BEINGS, THEY'LL BEHAVE LIKE
HUMAN BEINGS.
>> IT'S NOT ONLY ABOUT SPACE AND
THAT'S A HUGE ISSUE, BUT YOU
HAVE TO CHANGE THE CULTURE.
>> IF YOU DON'T CHANGE THEOF A
ADDRESS THE COMMUNITY SAFETY
ISSUE.
>> OLIVA TAYLOR SERVES ON THE
CULTURE CHANGE WORKING GROUP FOR
THE NEW BOROUGH JAILS.
>> HERE IS A CULTURE OF VIOLENCE
AT RIKERS ISLAND BUT NOT ONLY
FOR THE STAFF IT'S FOR INMATES
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE.
IT HAS TO CHANGE.
IT CAN'T BE THAT WE ARE MOVING
BUILDINGS AND WE'LL HAVE SMALL
LITTLE RIKERS ISLANDS IN
DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES.
>> WHO BEHAVE -- ONE FACILITY
AND COMPLETELY CHANGE THEIR WAYS
IN ANOTHER FACILITY BECAUSE THE
CULTURE IS NOT THERE.
SO CREATING NEW BOROUGH-BASED
JAILS GETS THE OPPORTUNITY TO
EFFECT CULTURE.
>> JOHNNY PEREZ IS THE DIRECTOR
OF THE U.S. PRISONS PROGRAM FOR
THE NATIONAL RELIGIOUS CAMPAIGN
AGAINST TORTURE.
>> THE BIGGEST INFLUENCER IN
ALLOWING ME TO MAKE BETTER
DECISIONS IN MY LIFE WAS
EDUCATION.
IT JUST SO HAPPENED I DISCOVERED
EDUCATION WHILE INCARCERATED.
>> THE MAYOR HAS MANDATED A
MINIMUM OF FIVE HOURS A DAY OF
PROGRAMMING TO ADDRESS
EDUCATIONAL, VOCATIONAL, AND
THERAPEUTIC NEEDS.
>> THE INMATES SHOULD HAVE THE
PROGRAMS, IF WE EXPECT PEOPLE TO
COME BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
BETTER THAN WHEN THEY LEFT, OF
COURSE, WE SHOULD PROVIDE THEM
WITH TRAINING.
WE SHOULD EDUCATE THEM.
>> FILL IN THE GAPS OF WHERE YOU
WANT TO GET AT AND WHERE YOU
ARE.
>> FACILITIES THEMSELVES ARE SO
COMPLETELY WRONG IN SO MANY
WAYS.
OPERATED THERE ARE AT ARE BEING-
EXTRAORDINARY.
>> IN ADDITION TO BETTER
PROGRAMMING SPACE, THE NEW PLAN
ENVISIONS A HEALTHIER LIVING
ENVIRONMENT WITH SUNLIGHT AND
FRESH AIR MORE AKIN TO THE
OUTSIDE WORLD.
>> CERTAINLY THE PRESENCE OF
NATURAL MATERIALS THAT MAKES
ENVIRONMENTS FEEL MORE NORMAL.
EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN SLEEPING
ROOM.
THERE'S A COMMON DAY ROOM WHERE
PEOPLE HAVE THEIR OWN MEALS AND
PARTICIPATE IN GROUP ACTIVITIES.
THERE'S A RECREATION AREA OFF
EVERY HOUSING UNIT PROVIDING THE
ABILITY TO GO OUTSIDE AND GET
FRESH AIR WITHOUT HAVING TO WAIT
TO GET YOUR ONE HOUR ONCE A WEEK
OR WHATEVER.
IS THERE SCIENCE BEHIND THIS?
ABSOLUTELY.
CREATING ENVIRONMENTS THAT ARE
NORMAL THAT ARE CALM PRODUCES
BETTER BEHAVIORS.
>> NOT ONLY DOES THE NEW PLAN
CALL FOR IMPROVED CONDITIONS
DETAINEES AND GUARDS, IT
PROPOSES NEIGHBORHOOD AMENITIES
LIKE COMMUNITY MEETING SPACE AND
GROUND FLOOR RETAIL.
>> IT'S A PART OF THE COMMUNITY
WHERE IT SITS.
IT BECOMES AN ASSET TO THE
COMMUNITY.
BUT THE COMMUNITY HAS TO HAVE A
ROLE IN WHAT THE NEEDS ARE AND
WHAT IS ACTUALLY AVAILABLE TO
THEM IN THEIR COMMUNITY.
THE LARGE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE
HELD ON RIKERS ISLAND ARE NOT
SENT TO PRISON BUT RETURN TO
THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS AFTER THEIR
STAY IN JAIL.
>> I THINK WE ALL WOULD THINK
THAT GOING INTO A PRISON OR JAIL
IS TRAUMATIC.
I DON'T THINK WE NECESSARILY
COMING OUT OF THOSE INSTITUTIONS
IS AS TRAUMATIC AS GOING IN.
BUT FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE COMING
HOME TO UNCERTAINTY, IT'S
EXTREMELY TRAUMATIC.
>> WESLEY WORKS FOR A PUBLIC
DEFENDER NONPROFIT IN THE BRONX
HELPING PEOPLE CONFRONT THE
CHALLENGES OF COMING HOME.
HE KNOWS FIRSTHAND WHAT THAT'S
LIKE.
>> I'M STILL IN MY REENTRY
PROCESS.
RIGHT.
AND IT'S BEEN SEVERAL YEARS.
WHETHER OR NOT SOMEONE IS ABLE
TO NAVIGATE THAT PROCESS IS
REALLY DEPENDENT ON THE SUPPORT
THEY HAVE.
THE REENTRY SHOULD BEGIN WHEN
THE HANDCUFFS ARE PLACED ON
SOMEONE.
>> ONCE A PERSON ENTERS RIKERS
ISLAND, IT COSTS TAXPAYERS AN
ESTIMATED $828 FOR EVERY DAY
THEY'RE DETAINED THERE.
>> IF WE'RE GOING TO SPEND A LOT
OF MONEY DEALING WITH PEOPLE
WHOSE FREEDOM WE HAVE TAKEN
AWAY, THEY SHOULD LEAVE THE
INSTITUTION BETTER THAN WHEN
THEY CAME IN.
NOT WORSE.
>> I'M FLABBERGASTED BY THE
CORRECTIONS.
THE IDEA THAT THE WORST I TREAT
YOU, THE MORE IT'S GOING TO MAKE
YOU CHANGE AND NOT COME BACK
HERE NOT KNOWING IT'LL
EXACERBATE THE PROBLEM.
WE SHOULD MAKE THE ENVIRONMENT
AS NORMALIZED AS POSSIBLE
BECAUSE THEY'LL COME INTO OUR
NEIGHBORHOODS AND WE WANT THEM
TO BE AS NORMAL AS POSSIBLE, IN
PART, BECAUSE IT'S THE DECENT
AND RIGHT THING TO DO, TOO.
THE PLAN TO CLOSE RIKERS ISLAND
PRESENTS A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO
ASK WHAT SHOULD JUSTICE BY
DESIGN LOOK LIKE?
>> WHEN I THINK ABOUT JUSTICE
DESIGN MEANS IS A JUSTICE SYSTEM
DESIGNED BY AND FOR INDIVIDUALS
WHO ARE FORMERLY INCARCERATED.
IT'S DESIGNED BY THOSE CLOSEST
TO THE PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTION
TO HAVE A VOICE IN WHAT THIS
LOOKS LIKE.
>> IT MEANS THINKING THROUGH ALL
OF THE STAKEHOLDERS AND ALL OF
THEIR NEEDS.
ABSOLUTELY WITH SAFETY BEING ONE
OF THEM.
BUT WITH THERAPY AND WITH
REHABILITATION HOPEFULLY BEING
AT THE FOREFRONT.
>> PART IS IMPROVING CONDITIONS
AND CULTURE SO WE DON'T
HUMILIATE AND DEGRADE PEOPLE.
PART IS HELP INDIVIDUALS SO THEY
CAN MOVE BEYOND THE CHALLENGES
THAT BROUGHT THEM INTO THE
PRISON SYSTEM.
>> AND THINK ABOUT HOW MANY MORE
WAYS THOSE TAX DOLLARS COULD BE
USED TO ADVANCE BOTH PUBLIC
SAFETY AND MORE SERVICES, IF IT
WAS NOT WASTED IN A SYSTEM THAT
DEHUMANIZES AND CREATES A CYCLE
OF PEOPLE GOING IN AND OUT OF
CAGES.
>> I DON'T KNOW TOO MUCH ABOUT
IT.
>> FOR A LOT OF YEARS, I SAW MY
DAUGHTER GROW UP THROUGH
PICTURES.
TODAY SHE'S 18 AND GOING ON 50.
>> SHE WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO
FORGIVE ME WHEN I CAME HOME.
>> YEAH.
>> SHE SAID, DAD, I WANT DO YOU
KNOW I DON'T CARE WHAT HAPPENED
AND I'M GLAD YOU'RE HERE NOW.
SHE'S ALSO TAUGHT ME A LOT ABOUT
COMPASSION AND SECOND CHANCES.
MY HOPE IS TO BRING HUMANITY
BACK INTO THE CONVERSATION AND
WE CAN DESIGN SPACES WHERE
JUSTICE IS NOT ONLY PRESENT BUT
GUARANTEED.
>> AND JOINING US NOW TO
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION IS
DANA KAPLAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF
CHOICE RIKERS ISLAND.
AND STANLEY RICHARDS, THE
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE
FORTUNE SOCIETY, A NEW YORK
NONPROFIT DEDICATED, IN PART, TO
SUPPORTING SUCCESSFUL REENTRY TO
PRISON.
WELCOME TO YOU.
IT'S A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU
HERE.
>> THANK YOU.
>> WE SAW QUITE A BIT ABOUT HOW
JAIL SHOULD BE DESIGNED AND
ESSENTIALLY TRANSFORMED BOTH
ARCHITECTURALLY AND CULTURALLY.
WHAT DOES THE IDEAL JAIL LOOK
LIKE TO YOU?
>> IT'S IN THE COMMUNITY, CLOSE
TO THE COURTHOUSES, IT'S
PROVIDING FAMILY AND OFFICES
ACCESS AND IT SHOULD HAVE
SERVICES.
IT SHOULD BE A SPACE THAT IS
NECESSARY TO BUILD THE REENTRY
FOR THOSE WHO ARE BEGIN TO BE
DETAINED THERE.
>> WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE
BIGGEST OBSTACLES OR CHALLENGES
THAT YOU FACED AS YOU TRY TO
TRANSITION FROM RIKERS ISLAND TO
THE SMALLER JAILS?
>> FIRST OF ALL, I THINK IT'S
IMPORTANT WE CON TEX YULIZE THE
CITY'S EFFORT TO CLOSE RIKERS
ISLAND IS HISTORICAL MOMENT OF
JUSTICE REFORM.
SO IT IS ABOUT NOT ONLY HOW DO
WE CLOSE THE JAILS ON RIKERS
ISLAND AND MOVE TO SMALLER BURR
BOROUGH-BASED FACILITIES BUT A
DECARS RATION EFFORT.
WE'RE PLANNING FOR HALF THE
CAPACITY OF WHAT OUR CITIES'
JAIL SYSTEM HAS BEEN.
WE'RE FOCUSSED ON REDUCING THE
NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE IN
DETENTION ON A GIVEN DAY AND
WE'RE FOCUSSED ON CULTURE
CHANGE, AS WELL.
ALL OF THAT TAKES AN INCREDIBLE
AMOUNT OF WORK.
WE'VE GOT, YOU KNOW, FROM
NONPROFIT SERVICE PROVIDERS,
LEGISLATIVE REFORM, WORK WITH A
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.
WE ARE IN THE BEGINNING OF THE
PUBLIC APPROVAL PROCESS FOR THE
FOUR NEW PROPOSED FACILITIES
THEMSELVES.
AND I THINK THIS IS A REALLY
SIGNIFICANT MOMENT RIGHT NOW FOR
THE CITY OF NEW YORK IN WHICH
WE'RE MOVING FROM THIS WIDE CALL
AND RECOGNITION THAT WE HAVE TO
CLOSE RIKERS ISLAND.
>> BUT THE PUSH BACK HAS COME
FROM WHERE?
>> SO I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF
SUPPORT FOR THE CLOSURE OF
RIKERS ISLAND.
WE ALSO WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT
AT THE NEIGHBORHOOD LEVEL, THERE
ARE A LOT OF QUESTIONS AND
CONCERNS ABOUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN
FOR NEIGHBORHOODS?
>> YEAH.
>> WE'RE IN A REALLY IMPORTANT
PHASE IN WHICH WE, AS THE CITY,
AND AS THE ADMINISTRATION, ARE
SEEKING TO WORK WITH
NEIGHBORHOODS AND CRIMINAL
JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS AND
INDIVIDUALS TO ACTUALLY DESIGN
AND DEVELOP WHAT COMES NEXT AND
HOW DO WE ACTUALLY DEVELOP THESE
MORE NEIGHBORHOOD INTEGRATED
FACILITIES.
>> AND SOME OF THE MEMBERS OF
THE COMMUNITY SAID ONE THING
THEY HAD TROUBLE WITH IS
TRANSPARENCY, COMMUNITY
ENGAGEMENT.
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?
>> SO I THINK NEIGHBORHOODS AND
COMMUNITY HAVE TO BE A KEY PART
OF THIS.
WE HAVE BEEN VERY FOCUSSED ON
WORKING WITH CRIMINAL JUSTICE
ORGANIZATIONS, YOU KNOW, WE'VE
GOT TASK FORCES FOCUSSED ON
REDUCING THE JAIL POPULATION
DESIGN, CULTURE CHANGE.
WE SET UP NEIGHBORHOOD ADVISORY
COUNSELS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE
NEIGHBORHOOD CONCERNS ARE.
AND HAVE HAD DOZENS OF MEETINGS
MET WITH HUNDREDS OF INDIVIDUALS
TO MAKE SURE THAT WE CAN HAVE,
AT THE END OF THE DAY, A PLAN
THAT ACHIEVES OUR MEANS AS AN
ENDS TO TRANSFORM THE CITY'S
JUSTICE SYSTEM BUT ALSO
ACKNOWLEDGES AND RECOGNIZES WHAT
NEIGHBORHOOD CONCERNS ARE.
>> AND I THINK THE IMPORTANT
PIECE IS EVEN THOSE WHO ARE
VOCAL ABOUT FEELING LIKE THEY
WEREN'T INCLUDED, THEY AGREED
THAT WE NEED TO FUNDAMENTALLY
CHANGE THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE
SYSTEM.
>> YEAH.
>> THERE'S NO DISAGREEMENT ABOUT
WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE DIVERT
AS MANY YOUNG PEOPLE AS WE CAN.
WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE ARE
PROVIDING SERVICES FOR PEOPLE TO
REBUILD THEIR LIVES.
SO THE AGREEMENT IS THE
FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN CRIMINAL
JUSTICE.
THERE IS SOME CONVERSATION AND
SOME DISSENSION AROUND WHETHER
OR NOT PEOPLE FEEL INCLUDED.
>> RIGHT.
>> THERE ARE SOME NEW YORKERS
WHO ARE CONCERNED.
THEY EQUATE LESSER PEOPLE IN
JAIL TO PERHAPS MORE CRIMES ON
THE STREETS.
AND, OF COURSE, THE LOCAL
COMMUNITY, AS YOU WERE
MENTIONING, SOME PEOPLE WHO LIVE
WHERE THE JAILS ARE SCHEDULED TO
BE PLACED ARE CONCERNED TO WHERE
THEY LIVE, KIDS TO GO TO SCHOOL.
>> AS A FORMERLY INCARCERATED
PERSON, I SPENT MOST OF MY LIFE
CYCLING OUT OF JAIL AND PRISON.
IT WASN'T UNTIL MY LAST
INCARCERATION I GRADUATED
COLLEGE I REALIZED MY LIFE WAS
IN MY HAND AND I WAS ABLE TO
CHANGE MY LIFE.
WE'RE SAYING IT'S NOT THE
FACILITY THAT WILL MAKE THE
DIFFERENCE.
IT'S WHETHER OR NOT WE PUT
SERVICES IN.
IT'S WHETHER OR NOT WE GIVE
PEOPLE A SECOND CHANCE.
AS A FORTUNE SOCIETY, WE SEE
7,000 MEN AND WOMEN EACH YEAR.
WE PROVIDE A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE
FEEL SAFE, WHERE PEOPLE CAN
REBUILD THEIR LIVES.
HERE IS WHAT WE KNOW.
WHEN YOU GIVE PEOPLE AN
OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE THEIR
LIFE, LIKE I WAS GIVEN AN
OPPORTUNITY, WHEN THEY CHANGED
THEIR LIFE, THEY CAN BE
CONTRIBUTING MEMBERS OF SOCIETY.
I HAVE FOUR GROWN CHILDREN.
I HAVE A WIFE OF 28 YEARS.
I HAVE A HOUSE I BOUGHT.
I STILL LIVE IN THE BRONX.
SO I WENT FROM BEING A MENACE TO
MY COMMUNITY TO BEING AN ASSET
TO MY COMMUNITY.
I'M STILL ADVOCATING FOR THOSE
CHANGES BECAUSE I KNOW THE
DIFFERENCE IT CAN MAKE IN THE
LIVES OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE
GOING IN AND OUT OF PRISON.
>> I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT JUST
TO KNOW THAT JUSTICE REFORM IS
IMPROVING PUBLIC SAFETY.
>> YEAH.
THAT'S RIGHT.
>> THE JAIL POPULATION, THE
NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN JAIL ON A
GIVEN DAY HAS GONE DOWN BY 30%
SINCE THE MAYOR TOOK OFFICE.
60% SINCE THE '90s.
THIS IS AT A TIME IN WHICH NEW
YORK CITY IS THE SAFEST BIG CITY
IN THE COUNTRY AND HAS THE
LOWEST RATE OF INCARCERATION IN
THE COUNTRY.
THOSE TWO THINGS GO HAND AND
HAND.
>> ARE YOU CONFIDENT THAT BY
2027 THAT THERE WILL BE NO MORE
DETAINEES WITHIN RIKERS ISLAND
OR BEFORE THAT?
>> WELL, ACTUALLY, AND SO, AS
THE MAYOR NOTED RECENTLY, WE
BELIEVE NOW WE CAN DO IT EVEN
SOONER.
SO OUR END GOAL POST IS 2026, AT
THIS POINT, I AM CONFIDENT.
AS STANLEY SAID, THERE'S BROAD
SUPPORT FOR THE CLOSURE OF
RICKERS.
IT'S TOP PRIORITY OF THIS
ADMINISTRATION BUT IT'S THE
COUNSEL.
IT'S THE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
THAT HELP TO CALL FOR THIS
CHANGE.
NEW YORKERS ACROSS THE BOARD ARE
BEHIND THIS.
NOW THERE'S A LOT OF WORK FOR
THIS TO ACTUALLY MOVE FORWARD.
OF COURSE, WE'RE GOING THROUGH
THE PUBLIC APPROVAL PROCESS, AS
YOU NOTED.
IT'S SOMETHING THAT THE COUNSEL
WILL HAVE TO VOTE ON.
YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A LOT OF HARD
WORK TO DO AT THE NEIGHBORHOOD
LEVEL TO ENSURE THAT ARE MAKING
IT THE BEST PLAN POSSIBLE.
I'M CONFIDENT THAT WITH THIS
BROAD SUPPORT FOR CLOSING RIKERS
ISLAND AND THE BROAD SUPPORT FOR
JUSTICE REFORM, WE'RE GOING TO
SEE THIS HAPPEN.
>> ALL RIGHT.
I'M SORRY, STANLEY, WE'RE OUT OF
TIME.
WE HAVE TO END IT THERE.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US
TO TALK ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT
TOPIC.
THANK YOU.
JUST REMINDER, JUSTICE WEEK
CONTINUES TOMORROW NIGHT HERE ON
"METROFOCUS."
SEE YOU THEN.
HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.
"METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY --
JAMES AND MERYL TISCH, THE
SYLVIA A AND SIMON B. POITA
FOUNDATION TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
ROSLYN P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE
ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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