JUSTICE WEEK: WOMEN AND INCARCERATION

May 22, 2019 at 5:30 am

As reports of violence in New York City’s jails continue to grow, a City Council investigation reveals that although women make up only 6% of the population, 20% of the allegations come from the women’s center on Rikers Island. In partnership with Public Square Media, we continue our special “Justice Week” series with personal stories of women who have experienced life inside Rikers.

Aired on May 21, 2019. 

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>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS,"
WOMEN AND INCARCERATION.
AS REPORTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST
WOMEN IN JAIL GROW IN NEW YORK
CITY, A STARTEDING STATISTIC
REVEALS 20% OF THE ALLEGATIONS
CAME FROM THE WOMEN'S CENTER ON
RIKERS ISLAND.
AS THE MAYOR PROPOSES A NEW SITE
FOR THE WOMEN'S JAIL, WE ASKED
THE QUESTION, CAN HIS PLAN FOR A
BOROUGH-BASED FACILITY WORK?
WE CONTINUE OUR SPECIAL JUSTICE
WEEK SERIES WITH PERSONAL
ACCOUNTS OF WOMEN WHO HAVE
EXPERIENCED LIFE INSIDE RIKERS.
THIS SPECIAL JUSTICE WEEK
EDITION OF MECH "METROFOCUS""
STARTS RIGHT NOW.
>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH
RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND
JENNA FLANAGAN.
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --
>>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME.
I'M JACK FORD.
THERE COULD BE A NEW JAIL COMING
TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
MAYOR DeBLASIO PLANS TO CLOSE
RIKERS ISLAND BY 2026 AND BRILD
FOUR NEW JAILS THROUGHOUT THE
BOROUGHS.
IT INCLUDES ONE FACILITY IN
QUEENS THAT WOULD HOUSE ALL
WOMEN DETAINEES IN PLACE OF THE
CURRENT ROSE M. SINGER FACILITY
ON RIKERS ISLAND WHICH BRINGS US
TO TONIGHT'S QUESTION.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A WOMAN ON
RIKERS ISLAND AND IS THIS
PROPOSAL FOR A WOMEN-ONLY
FACILITY THE BEST OPTION, AND IS
IT POSSIBLE FOR THE NOTORIOUS
NEW YORK CITY JAIL TO INDEED
CLOSE PERHAPS BEFORE THE YEAR
2026?
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PUBLIC
SQUARE MEDIA, WE'RE CONTINUING
OUR JUSTICE WEEK SERIES AND OUR
SEARCH FOR ANSWERS TO THESE AND
OTHER QUESTIONS.
TO HELP, WE'RE JOINED BY TWO
WOMEN FORMERLY INCARCERATED ON
RIKERS.
NOW THE FOUNDER OF NON-PROFIT
CLEAR LEGACY, LA KWEESH YEAH
HARD AND KENDRA CLARK, ALSO
JOINED BY CITY COUNCIL MEMBER
HELEN ROSENTHAL, ALWAYS PLEASED
TO HAVE YOU JOINING US.
WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU HERE
TODAY.
A LOT TO TALK ABOUT.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.
>> A LOT OF PERSONAL STORIES
THAT ARE COMPELLING.
I'LL GET TO THEM IN A SECOND.
HELEN, LET ME ASK YOU TO SET THE
STAGE, TO GIVE US A BIGGER
PICTURE ABOUT RIKERS ISLAND, THE
ISSUES WITH IT AND THE NOTION OF
IT GOING AWAY.
WHY?
>> WE'RE AT A WONDERFUL MOMENT
IN TIME WHERE FEWER AND FEWER
PEOPLE ARE ON RIKERS ISLAND.
THINK ABOUT IT.
THERE WERE 20,000 PEOPLE THERE
IN JAIL ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO.
NOW THE NUMBER IS 8,000.
THE NUMBER OF WOMEN ON RIKERS
HAS COME DOWN TO JUST OVER 500,
WHERE NATIONALLY THOSE NUMBERS
HAVE SKYROCKETED, PARTICULARLY
FOR WOMEN.
ANYWAY, THE MAYOR ENDED THE
PRACTICE OF STOP AND FRISK.
WE WENT FROM 860,000 STOP,
QUESTION, FRISK, DOWN TO NOW
26,000.
SOME PEOPLE COULD QUESTION THAT
NUMBER.
BUT DURING THAT SAME PERIOD OF
TIME, CRIME DROPPED
PRECIPITOUSLY AND NOW WE'RE AT
THE LOWEST LEVELS SINCE 1951.
CRIME IS COMING DOWN.
THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE ON RIKERS
IS COMING DOWN.
WE HAVE MORE ENLIGHTENED POINTS
OF VIEW ABOUT ALTERNATIVES TO
INCARCERATION.
>> SOMETHING I WANT TO TALK
ABOUT.
>> SO IT'S THE PERFECT MOMENT TO
CLOSE RIKERS WHICH HAS BEEN A
TREMENDOUS FAIL FOR EVERYONE WHO
HAS LANDED ON THE ISLAND.
>> LET ME ASK ABOUT THAT, AND
THEN I'LL ASK THE LADIES WHO
HAVE BEEN THERE.
SOMEBODY WHO IS NOT FAMILIAR
WITH THIS WHOLE CONVERSATION
MIKE LISTENING TO WHAT YOU'RE
SAYING AND SAY, THAT'S
IMPRESSIVE, NUMBERS GOING DOWN,
CRIME GOING DOWN, THE NUMBER OF
THOSE INCARCERATED IS GOING
DOWN.
SOME PEOPLE MAY SAY WHY SHOULD
WE CLOSE REICH SNERS.
>> BECAUSE TODAY IT COSTS
$340,000 TO HOUSE ONE PERSON AT
RIKERS FOR A YEAR.
>> THAT'S AN ASTONISHING NUMBER.
>> THAT'S WHAT WE'RE PAYING FOR,
NUMBER OF CORRECTIONS OFFICERS,
PRETTY MUCH THE SAME AS THE
NUMBERS HAVE COME DOWN, BECAUSE
OF ALL THE FIXED COSTS.
SO WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO
CLOSE RIKERS, BRING THOSE
NUMBERS DOWN TO SOMETHING MORE
LIKE $40,000 PER PERSON HOUSED.
THAT WOULD BE A TREMENDOUS
HUMANITARIAN SAVING.
>> LEAVE A LOT OF MONEY TO GO
INTO OTHER PROGRAMS.
>> THAT'S EXACTLY IT.
IF YOU LOOK AT THE AMOUNT OF
ABUSE THAT'S HAPPENED AT RIKERS,
WHICH APPEARS TO BE SYSTEMIC,
NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN CHANGE
BECAUSE IT'S CULTURAL AND
MISGUIDED --
>> THE IDEA IS WE NEED TO JUST
ERASE RIKERS AND START ALL OVER
AGAIN.
>> OF THE 8,000 PEOPLE ON RIKERS
RIGHT NOW, 6% OF THE POPULATION
IS WOMEN, YET THEY REPRESENT 22%
OF THE SEXUAL ASSAULTS.
>> I SAW THAT NUMBERS.
THAT'S A STAGGERING NUMBER.
>> THE TWO OF YOU I MENTIONED IN
THE INTRODUCTION ARE DOING
WONDERFUL WORK HERE.
YOU'VE IN MANY WAYS USED YOUR
OWN PAST EXPERIENCES, PROBLEMS
IN YOUR LIVES AND YOUR OWN
INCARCERATIONS AS YOUR
SPRINGBOARD FOR THIS.
I'LL ASK YOU BOTH THE SAME
QUESTION.
KENDRA, I'LL START WITH YOU AS
WE WORK OUR WAY ACROSS HERE.
TELL ME BRIEFLY ABOUT HOW LONG
YOU WERE IN RIKERS, WHY, AND
WHAT YOU SAW AS THE MAJOR
ISSUES.
>> SURE.
I SPENT FOUR MONTHS ON RIKERS
BEFORE BEING TRANSFERRED TO AN
UPSTATE NEW YORK STATE
CORRECTIONAL FACILITY.
WHAT I WAS ON RIKERS, THERE'S
COMMON STORIES I USUALLY TELL.
MY FIRST THREE DAYS I SPENT IN
THE BULLPEN BEFORE EVEN GETTING
TO ARRAIGNMENT.
SO BEFORE SEEING A JUDGE THERE'S
A HOLDING --
>> NOTHING HAPPENS?
>> WELL, FOR ME IT DIDN'T
BECAUSE OF MY CASE.
THERE WAS A WOMAN WHO WAS HUNGRY
AND SHE WAS ASKING THE
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS FOR FOOD.
THE CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WERE
SITTING THERE AND ORDERED FOOD
FROM OUTSIDE.
IT SMELLED REALLY GOOD.
THEY WERE ALL EATING TAKEOUT.
SHE JUST WANTED THE PRISON FOOD,
JAIL FOOD, BALONEY SANDWICH.
THEY REFUSED TO GIVE IT TO HER
BECAUSE IT WAS PAST THE TIME
THEY HAD ALREADY FED US.
SHE REACHED OUT OF THE BAR,
PULLED THE GARBAGE CAN AND
REACHED HER HAND IN AND STARTED
EATING FOOD OUT OF THE GARBAGE.
THAT WAS MY FIRST WAKEUP TO HOW
YOU'RE GOING TO BE TREATED ON
RIKERS.
FROM EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY
YOU'RE ON THERE, THE HARASSMENT,
THE ABUSE, THE WORRY ABOUT BEING
SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, AND I THINK
IT RETRIGGERS THE TRAUMA YOU
EXPERIENCED.
I ACTUALLY GREW UP AND
EXPERIENCED A LOT OF DOMESTIC
VIOLENCE AND TRAUMA AS A CHILD.
BACK ON RIKERS ISLAND, I FELT
LIKE I WAS 8 YEARS OLD AGAIN,
THAT THOSE MALE CORRECTIONAL
OFFICERS COULD WATCH ME TO GO TO
THE BATHROOM WITH THEIR
FLASHLIGHTS.
IF I TRIED TO PUT A PIECE OF
PAPER UP TO COVER THE WINDOW IN
THE CELL, YOU WOULD GET A TICKET
AND SENT TO SOLITARY
CONFINEMENT.
SUFFERING FROM MENTAL ILLNESS
AND DRAMA, I KNEW I COULDN'T
HANDLE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.
EVERY NIGHT I WENT TO SLEEP ON
RIKERS, I HAD TO WORRY I WAS
GOING TO BE RAPED BY AN OFFICER.
IF I WAS, THERE WOULD BE NO ONE
TO REPORT IT TO.
>> LA KWEESH SHAH, HOW ABOUT
YOU?
HOW LONG WERE YOU THERE AND THE
ISSUES THAT YOU SAW THAT HAVE
STAYED WITH YOU?
>> WELL, WHEN I FIRST GOT TO
RIKERS ISLAND I WAS 19 YEARS OLD
AND PREGNANT.
I HAD MY CHILD DURING THAT
INCARCERATION OF 16 MONTHS OF ME
BEING ON RIKERS ISLAND.
THE FIRST THING A TEENAGE GIRL
THINKS WHEN SHE'S GOING INTO
RIKERS ISLAND IS, OH, MY GOD.
IT WAS GLOOMY.
IT WAS COLD, BECAUSE I GOT THERE
IN THE WINTER, NOVEMBER, LIKE A
WEEK BEFORE THANKSGIVING.
I JUST WANTED TO GO HOME.
>> DID YOU GET ANY PRENATAL CARE
WHILE YOU WERE IN THERE?
>> DEPENDS ON WHO IS LOOKING AT
IT.
THE PRENATAL CARE WAS VERY POOR.
YOU WOULD SIT FOR HOURS IN THIS
ROOM WAITING TO SEE A NURSE TO
GET PRENATAL CARE, TO SEE A
DOCTOR.
I REMEMBER ONE TIME I ASKED THE
NURSE -- THE PHYSICIAN THAT WAS
DOING THE SONOGRAM.
I WAS LIKE, CAN YOU TELL ME THE
SEX OF THE BABY.
SHE WAS LIKE NO, YOU DON'T
DESERVE THAT.
YOU SHOULDN'T BE HERE.
FOR ME THAT WAS MY WAKE-UP CALL.
IT WAS A WAKE-UP CALL WAY BEFORE
THEN, BUT THAT IS WHEN REALITY
SAT.
I WAS DENIED THE NURSERY BECAUSE
OF THE NATURE OF MY CRIME.
A CRIME IS A CRIME.
I DON'T THINK A WOMAN SHOULD BE
SEPARATED FROM HER CHILD JUST
BECAUSE OF THE MISTAKE OR ACTION
THAT SHE DID TO GET WHERE SHE
WAS.
IT JUST WAS A VERY UNFORTUNATE
THING.
I SUVD POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION.
I DID NOT HAVE THE FULL HEALTH
SERVICES OFFERED TO ME.
ONCE I GOT BACK INTO THE
FACILITY, IT'S A VERY HARSH
ENVIRONMENT TO LIVE IN WHEN
YOU'RE PREGNANT.
>> YOU BOTH, AS I'VE SAID, USED
YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A SPRINGBOARD
TO DO SOMETHING VERY GOOD FOR
SOCIETY.
YOU'RE BOTH ILLUSTRATIONS OF
WHAT WE SAY IN SOCIETY, JUST
BECAUSE SOMEBODY MAKES A MI
MISTAKE, DOESN'T MEAN THEY CAN'T
BE PRODUCTIVE LATER.
WE ALSO HAVE TO PROTECT PEOPLE
FROM THOSE THAT WILL NOT BE
PRODUCTIVE.
I WANT TO GET YOUR VIEWPOINT.
ONE NOTION IS, OKAY, LET'S HAVE
A SINGLE FACILITY FOR WOMEN.
THE IDEA IS CLOSE RIKERS, FOUR
NEW FACILITIES.
THE PROPOSAL IS ONE NEW
FACILITY, NOT A WING IN EACH OF
THE FOUR.
YOU'RE BOTH NODDING SEEMING TO
SAY YOU THINK THAT'S A GOOD
IDEA.
KENDRA, YOU FIRST.
>> WITH THE BEYOND ROSIE'S
CAMPAIGN, RAN BY THE WOMEN
COMMUNITY JUSTICE SITUATION.
>> ROSIE'S IS THE SLANG TERM FOR
THE FACILITY I MENTIONED, ROSE
SINGER FACILITY.
>> WOMEN'S COMMUNITY JUSTICE IS
FOR WOMEN WHO ARE FORMERLY
INCARCERATED, ORIGINALLY SET UP
BETWEEN HOUSING PLUS, PROVIDENCE
HOUSE, GREEN HOPE AND OUR
CHILDREN WHICH ARE FOUR OF THE
LARGEST NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
THAT SERVE WOMEN IN NEW YORK
CITY WITH RESPECT TO REENTRY.
AS A COALITION, WE CAME TOGETHER
AND A LOT OF US ARE EXECUTIVES
AT OTHER NON-PROFIT AGENCIES.
A LOT OF US ARE FORMERLY
INCARCERATED.
HISTORICALLY PRISONS AND JAILS
HAVE BEEN SET UP NOT FOR WOMEN.
EVEN ON RIKERS ISLAND,
EVERYTHING IS DESIGNED FOR MEN,
SET UP FOR MEN, THE PROGRAMMING
IS REALLY FOR MEN.
WE THINK -- WE DON'T THINK IT,
WE KNOW AT THE BEYOND ROSIE'S
CAMPAIGN, WE CAN REDUCE THE
INCARCERATED WOMEN TO ABOUT 120
OR LESS.
WE KNOW THERE'S ABOUT 70% WITH
ALL THE BAIL REFORM AND REFORMS
THAT CAME OUT AND THE INCREASES
IN ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS THAT WE
CAN GET THAT NUMBER DOWN.
>> WE SHOULD MENTION THAT.
WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THAT ON THE
SHOW BEFORE.
A LOT OF PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY A
LOT OF THE WOMEN ARE THERE
BEFORE THEIR CASE IS EVEN
ADJU
ADJUDICATED.
THEY'RE JUST BEING HELD UNTIL
THE CASE COMES ALONG.
I KNOW IT'S FOR BOTH, BUT
ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN.
>> 80% OF THE PEOPLE THERE ARE
PRE
PRETRIAL.
>> NOT BY CONVICTION.
>> SO YOU'RE PAINTING A PICTURE
FOR US.
SPECIFICALLY THEN WHY, IF
SOMEONE SAYS, I DON'T GET IT.
WHY DO YOU NEED A WIMS-ONLY
FACILITY.
>> WITH THE NUMBER BEING SO LOW,
IF IT'S ONLY GOING TO BE 100
WOMEN, IF YOU SPLIT THAT UP TO
25 WOMEN AT EACH BOROUGH, WHERE
IS THE FUNDING?
ARE NON-PROFIT PROVIDERS ABLE TO
GO IN AND PROVIDE THE
PROGRAMMING THEY NEED?
NO.
90% OF THE WOMEN ACROSS AMERICA
WHO ARE INCARCERATED EXPERIENCED
PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL ABUSE AS
CHILDREN.
THAT I HAVE PROLONGED TRAUMA.
I THINK THE CORRELATION BETWEEN
THAT, WE NEED TO TAKE A
DIFFERENT LOOK AT THE WOMEN
INSIDE, WHAT THEIR NEEDS ARE.
75% ON THE ROSE SINGER CENTER
HAVE MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS.
APPROXIMATELY 80% ARE SINGLE
MOTHERS.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT THESE
STATISTICS, WE NEED A FULLY
FLEDGED TRAUMA INFORMED FACILITY
AND YOU WON'T GET THAT WITH 25
WOMEN ON A LITTLE WING.
>> THE NUMBER WON'T GENERATE IT.
>> LET ME GET YOU IN ON THE
CONVERSATION, TOO.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE NOTION OF A
SINGLE WOMEN'S FACILITY
PROVIDING THE CARE AND
ASSISTANCE THAT YOU DIDN'T GET?
>> I THINK IT'S NEEDED.
BEING A PART OF THE BEYOND
ROSIE'S CAMPAIGN, I THINK HAVING
ONE FEMALE-BASED FACILITY, A
WOMAN WILL BE ABLE TO IMPROVE
HER HUMAN CONDITIONS AS A WOMAN.
AN AFRICAN PRO VERB, WHEN YOU
NURTURE A WOMAN, SHE NEURTURES
NATION.
WHEN YOU NURTURE A MAN, YOU'VE
JUST NURTURED AN INDIVIDUAL.
WITH THAT BEING SAID, YOU HAVE
TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE NEEDS OF
THE WOMAN.
EVEN THOUGH WE'RE UNDERMINED IN
THIS SOES SIDE, WE HAVE AN
IMPORTANT ROLE.
WHEN YOU INCOURSE RATE US
BECAUSE OF THE TROUBLE WE'VE
BEEN THERE.
I FELT I WAS INCARCERATED FROM
MY TRAUMA.
I WAS SEXUALLY MOLESTED AND RAPE
FROM THE AGE OF 13.
EVEN THOUGH I WENT TO SCHOOL, I
GOT MY DIPLOMA, I STILL WAS
OVERLOOKED AS NOTHING IS WRONG
WITH HER.
SOMETHING WAS ABSOLUTELY WRONG
WITH ME UNTIL THE DAY OF MY
CRIME.
NOW I'M INCOURSE RATED.
I'M DETAINED IN A PLACE WHERE
IT'S DANGEROUS FOR ME AND MY
CHILD THAT I WAS CARRYING.
IT'S NEEDED.
I THINK THIS FACILITY, THE NEEDS
OF A WOMAN WHEN SHE COMES
THROUGH RIKERS ISLAND, FROM THE
START OF HER BEING DETAINED TO
HER INTAKE, IF SHE EXITS OR IF
SHE GOES UP STATE, WHATEVER HER
END RESULT IS, SHE'S GOING TO
GET HELP IN THIS FACILITY AND
START THAT JOURNEY.
>> HELEN, LET ME ASK YOU TO JUMP
IN.
WE HAVE TO KEEP THE FOCUS ON THE
NOTION OF, OKAY, THERE'S AN
ELEMENT AFTER ADJUDICATION, AN
ELEMENT OF PUNISHMENT THAT
PEOPLE HAVE TO DO, BUT WE CAN'T
LOOSE SIGHT OF THE NOTION THAT
WE WANT PEOPLE TO COME OUT
BETTER THAN THEY WERE GOING IN.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
>> BUT HERE IS MY QUESTION TO
YOU AS A PUBLIC OFFICIAL.
DO YOU GET A SENSE THAT THE
PUBLIC FULLY EMBRACES THAT KNOW
SNUN YOU'LL OFTENTIMES HEAR
PEOPLE SAY, THEY MADE A MISTAKE,
THEY'VE GOT TO SERVE THEIR TIME.
IT'S NOT OUR JOB AS SOCIETY TO
MAKE THEM BETTER IN THERE.
WHAT'S THE ANSWER TO THAT?
>> WELL, FIRST OF ALL, WE NEED
TO EDUCATE PEOPLE.
IF YOU LOOK AT SOME OF THE
ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION
PROGRAMS LIKE THE FACILITIES
THAT THE WOMEN'S COMMUNITY
JUSTICE ASSOCIATION RUNS WHERE
THEY TAKE 50 WOMEN, ABOUT 50
WOMEN A YEAR WHO COULD BE AT
RIKERS.
THEY'VE BEEN SENTENCED FOR
MISDEMEANORS AND LOW LEVEL
FELONIES.
THEY COME IN AND TWO YEARS LATER
LEAVE AND THE RECIDIVISM RATE
HAS BEEN ZERO.
ZERO.
>> THAT'S CLEARLY A GOAL SOCIETY
WANTS TO LOOK FOR.
WE WANT TO HELP PEOPLE SO WHEN
THEY LOOK OUT, FIRST OF ALL,
THEY DON'T COMMIT ANOTHER CRIME
AND THEY CAN BECOME PRODUCTIVE
MEMBERS OF SOCIETY.
>> WHAT IS IT THAT THEY GET AT
THOSE FACILITIES?
TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE.
THAT MEANS THE PEOPLE AROUND,
WHO THEY'RE INTERACTING WITH ARE
SOCIAL WORKERS, CASEWORKERS,
EDUCATORS, MENTAL HEALTH
PROFESSIONALS WHO HAVE A GOOD
IDEA OF WHAT THESE WOMEN HAVE
BEEN THROUGH AND HOW TO HELP
THEM START THEIR JOURNEY, USING
YOUR WORDS, AS OPPOSED TO
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO HAVE
BEEN TRAINED TO THINK WE NEED TO
PROTECT SOCIETY FROM THESE
PEOPLE.
>> AND THERE'S A VALID ELEMENT
TO THAT.
LET'S BE SURE WE UNDERSTAND.
THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE -- I WAS A
PROSECUTOR AND DEFENSE ATTORNEY.
I CAME TO LEARN THERE'S SOME BAD
PEOPLE OUT THERE BUT WE CAN'T
TREAT EVERYBODY THE SAME WAY.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
WHEN WE SAY A LOT OF BAD PEOPLE
OUT THERE, HOW DO YOU WANT TO
TREAT THEM WHILE THEY'RE
INCARCERATED?
DO YOU WANT TO TREAT THEM IN A
WAY THAT'S GOING TO MAKE THEM
BADDER, OR DO YOU WANT TO TREAT
THEM IN A WAY WITH RESPECT AND
DIGNITY?
YOU'RE STILL GOING TO HAVE IN MY
MIND'S EYE.
NOT 100% AGREEMENT ON THIS, BUT
AT A SINGLE FACILITY, YOU COULD
STILL HAVE CORRECTION OFFICERS,
I WOULD ARGUE ONLY FEMALE, AT
THE FAR PERIMETER OF THE
FACILITY.
IN MY MIND'S EYE, THEY SHOULD BE
THERE.
BUT THE PEOPLE WHO DAY TO DAY
THESE WOMEN WOULD BE DEALING
WITH ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING
OUT FOR THEIR CONCERNS, TRAUMA
INFORMED.
>> THAT'S SUCH AN INTERESTING
POINT.
WHAT DO THE TWO OF YOU THINK,
GIVEN YOUR EXPERIENCES, THE
NOTION IS, ALL RIGHT, LET'S HAVE
THE PEOPLE DEALING WITH
DAY-TO-DAY, MINUTE-TO-MINUTE
WITH THE FEMALES INCARCERATED,
LET'S HAVE THEM BE SOCIAL
WORKERS AND PIPE WHO ARE WITH
NON-PROFIT, WILL PROVIDE
PROTECTION ON THE PERIPHERY, BUT
THE PEOPLE INDOORS, THE STAFF,
DAY-TO-DAY CONTACT,
MINUTE-TO-MINUTE CONTACT, WE
DON'T NEED CORRECTIONS OFFICERS,
WE NEED SOMETHING ELSE.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?
>> WE DO NEED THAT ELEMENT OF
SECURITY.
WHEN YOU'RE A WOMAN DEALING WITH
TRAUMA, YOU WANT TO RELATE TO
ANOTHER WOMAN OR ANOTHER PERSON
AS A HUMAN BEING.
TREAT ME AS A HUMAN BEING FIRST,
AND THEN WHATEVER YOUR JUDGMENT
OF ME, BEING A CRIMINAL,
WHATEVER YOU THINK, TREAT ME
HUMAN FIRST.
WITH THAT I'M GOING TO -- EVEN
IF YOU SAY THE BAD PEOPLE, YOU
FEEL LIKE THEY DON'T DESERVE TO
BE BACK IN SOCIETY, TREAT THEM
HUMAN.
WE'RE ALL HUMAN FIRST.
WHEN YOU TREAT ME HUMAN, I TEND
TO WANT TO BEHAVE HUMAN.
A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE OF HOW
ARE YOU GOING TO HELP ME BECAUSE
I NEED HELP?
NOT EVERYONE THAT WAS IN ME AND
MY SISTER RIGHT HERE'S SHOES,
NOT EVERYONE WANTED TO HELP.
>> LET ME ASK YOU ANOTHER
QUESTION --
>> CAN I ADD TO THAT?
I DO WANT TO CHALLENGE THE
NOTION OF SECURITY AND HOW WE
LOOK AT THAT.
THE ONE THING WITH D.O.C. I WILL
SAY --
>> DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.
>> YES.
I USED TO WORK FOR AN
ORGANIZATION AND I WORKED IN THE
ALTERNATIVE TO INCARCERATION
PROGRAM WHERE THEY TOOK VIOLENT
FELONY OFFENSES.
THEY TOOK PEOPLE FACING FIVE,
TEN YEARS UPSTATE, SOMETIMES
EVEN LONGER, AND WE SERVED THOSE
SAME PEOPLE IN OUR NON-PROFIT
ORGANIZATION.
THERE WAS NEVER ANY VIOLENCE.
THESE SAME YOUNG PEOPLE WERE NOT
BRINGING -- NONE OF OUR STAFF
EVER GOT HURT, NONE OF THEM HURT
EACH OTHER.
I REALLY WANT TO CHALLENGE THAT
NOTION THAT IT HAS TO BE D.O.C.
THAT'S NECESSARILY SECURITY.
ALL OF US NON-PROFIT AGENCIES
ARE WORKING WITH THE SAME EXACT
POPULATION THAT'S ON RIKERS, AND
THE ABUSE AND VIOLENCE THAT'S
HAPPENING ON RIKERS IS NOT
HAPPENING AT OUR NON-PROFIT --
>> WHAT YOUR EXPERIENCE IS WITH
THE RIGHT SELECTION PROCESS AND
THE RIGHT CARE AND TREATMENT,
YOU CAN MOVE THEM OUT OF THAT
CATEGORY.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
>> LET ME ASK YOU THIS.
ONE OF THE COUNTERARGUMENTS -- I
DON'T KNOW IF IT'S AN ARGUMENT
OR NOT, A CONCERN HAS BEEN
RAISED ABOUT A SINGLE FACILITY,
WAS, ISN'T THAT GOING TO MAKE IT
MORE DIFFICULT FOR FAMILY
MEMBERS AND YOUR LAWYERS TO GET
THERE AS OPPOSED TO, IF IT WAS
SPREAD OUT OVER FOUR BOROUGHS
AND THEORETICALLY YOUR LOCATION
WOULD BE IN THE BOROUGH THAT YOU
LIVED IN, CLEARLY THERE'S A
VALUE TO THAT.
BUT IN THE BALANCING PROCESS, DO
YOU THINK THAT'S ENOUGH TO
MANDATE FOUR DIFFERENT
FACILITIES, OR DO YOU THINK THE
ARGUMENTS FOR A SINGLE FACILITY
BASICALLY PREVAIL?
>> EACH LEVEL-BASE FACILITY,
THEIR NEEDS ARE NOT GETTING MET.
IT'S NOT.
I DON'T THINK IT'S POSSIBLE AT
ALL.
>> AS YOU MENTIONED, SUCH A
SMALL GROUP, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO
GET THE SAME --
>> YOU HAVE NON-PROFITS COMING
HERE AND GOING THERE, IT'S GOING
TO DRAIN THEM.
SOCIAL WORK, PERIOD, IS DRAINING
BECAUSE THEY'RE DEALING WITH
OTHER HUMAN BEINGS AND THEIR
ISSUES.
IF YOU PUT THESE WOMEN IN ONE
BUILDING THAT THEY'RE GIVEN THE
TREATMENT THEY NEED, SUBSTANCE
ABUSE, TRAUMA, THE WHOLE KIT AND
KABOODLE, YOU'RE THERE -- MY
MOTHER WOULD TRAVEL TO QUEENS.
MY MOTHER WOULD TRAVEL FROM
HARLEM TO QUEENS.
MY CHILDREN WOULD TRAVEL FROM
HARLEM TO QUEENS TO SEE ME.
MY LAWYER, THEY'RE A GOOD
LAWYER, BECAUSE NOT ALL LAWYERS
WANT TO DO THAT.
IT WOULD BE EASY FOR THEM TO
HAVE ACCESS TO ME, TO GET INTO
THE FACILITIES -- WHEN MY LAWYER
USED TO COME SEE ME, HE WOULD
WAIT FOR HOURS JUST TO SEE ME.
WHEN LAWYERS COME SEE YOU, IT'S
NO VISITING DAY.
SO WHAT'S THE EXCUSE?
>> I WANT TO ADD, TOO, THAT,
WITH ONLY BEING 100 WOMEN OR 125
WOMEN, WE CAN COME UP WITH SOME
REALLY CREATIVE IDEAS AROUND
TRANSPORTATION, SPECIFICALLY
WORKING WITH DIFFERENT LAW
SCHOOLS POTENTIALLY WHERE THEY
COULD PROVIDE THE TRANSPORTATION
FOR ATTORNEYS OR BACK AND FORTH
TO COURT APPEARANCES.
>> FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS
THAT WILL SAY, FINE --
>> I THINK WE CAN BE CREATIVE
ABOUT THAT.
AS A SIDE NOTE, ALSO.
WE ASKED ON ROSE'S CAMPAIGN, WE
WORKED WITH THE MAYOR'S OFFICE,
DANA KAPLAN, THEY RAN FOCUS
GROUPS AT ALL THE NON-PROFIT
ORGANIZATIONS DOING ALTERNATIVE
TO INCARCERATION PROGRAMS, WE
GARNERED INFORMATION FROM THESE
WOMEN AND THEY ALL, TOO, IN THIS
SCENARIO SAID THEY WOULD BETTER
CHOOSE HAVING A CENTRALIZED SITE
WHERE THEY RECEIVED ALL THE
PROGRAMMING THEY NEEDED AND WE
COULD COME UP WITH CREATIVE
TRANSPORTATION.
>> THE TRADEOFF WAS VALUABLE TO
THEM.
>> VERY VALUABLE TO THEM,
ESPECIALLY WITH US BEING ABLE TO
COME UP WITH CREATIVE
TRANSPORTATION IDEAS.
>> LET ME COME BACK FOR A
SECOND.
LET ME COME BACK.
WE'VE ALL TALKED ABOUT THE
NOTION OF THESE ALTERNATIVE
PROGRAMS.
SO FAR ALL I'VE HEARD IS SUCCESS
STORIES FOR ALL OF THEM.
HELEN, LET ME ASK YOU, FROM A
GOVERNMENTAL PERSPECTIVE,
GETTING PEOPLE TO EMBRACE
CHANGE, ESPECIALLY CHANGE IN THE
JUSTICE SYSTEM IS NEVER EASY.
DO YOU THINK THERE'S AN APPETITE
OUT THERE FOR THE PUBLIC TO,
FIRST OF ALL, RECOGNIZE WHAT
THESE WOMEN ARE SAYING AND SAY,
WE NEED TO CHANGE.
LET'S IMPLEMENT THESE
ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS BECAUSE,
BOTTOM LINE IS, IT'S GOING TO
HELP EVERYBODY AS OPPOSED TO
PEOPLE SAYING, LOOK, WE'VE GOT
PRISONS.
PUT PEOPLE IN PRISONS AND THAT'S
IT, WE'RE DONE.
IS THERE A PUBLIC APPETITE?
>> TIMES ARE A CHANGING.
I THINK WHAT'S HAPPENED IS
PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THE HORRORS
THAT'S HAPPENED ON RIKERS ARE
UNACCEPTABLE, FULL STOP.
THE STATE SENATE THIS YEAR
BECAUSE OF THE CHANGE IN
POLITICIANS -- NOW IT'S LED BY A
DEMOCRAT, DEMOCRAT-LED MAJORITY
HAS MADE WONDERFUL CHANGES TO
THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.
FEWER PEOPLE ARE GOING TO LAND
IN RIKERS.
NOW THE OPPORTUNITY IS THERE TO
INDEED MAKE THIS MORE HUMAN
APPROACH TO PUTTING PEOPLE --
INCARCERATING PEOPLE FOR WHAT
SHOULD REALLY BE A SHORT PERIOD
OF TIME AND A HUMAN EXPERIENCE.
I KNOW IT'S HARD, BUT THOSE
QUESTIONS CAN BE ANSWERED.
>> AND ALL OF THOSE, THE HUMAN
EXPERIENCE, THE PROGRESS AND
EVEN THE BOTTOM LINE DOLLAR
AMOUNTS ARE SOMETHING PEOPLE
NEED TO CONSIDER.
WE COULD TALK FOR HOURS.
WE'VE GOT A LOT OF THINGS WE GOT
TO TALK ANTI, NAQUISHA, KENDRA
AND HELEN, AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU
FOR SPENDING TIME.
AND YOU TWO FOR BEING ROLE
MODELS, TO SHOW YOU THE MAKE A
MISTAKE IN YOUR LIFE AND YET
YOUR LIFE CAN BECOME VERY
PRODUCTIVE AFTERWARDS.
>> THANK YOU.
>> CONGRATULATIONS TO BOTH OF
YOU AND GOOD WORK BEING DONE TO
CONTINUE THAT GOOD WORK.
WE'LL TALK AGAIN.
HELEN, GOOD TO SEE YOU.
>> ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE YOU.
>> THAT DOES IT FOR OUR LOOK
TODAY.
BUT A REMINDER THAT JUSTICE WEEK
CONTINUES TOMORROW NIGHT HERE ON
"METROFOCUS."
MAKE SURE TO JOIN US.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --
CORPORATE FUNDING WAS PROVIDED
BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR
RETIREMENT COMPANY AND BY PSE&G,
SERVING CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING
THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE.

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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