JUSTICE WEEK: “AFTER RIKERS: JUSTICE BY DESIGN”

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 & July 29, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

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 --

Funders

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

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