JUSTICE WEEK: WOMEN AND INCARCERATION

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. Tonight, we share the personal stories of women who have experienced life behind its bars.

Aired on May 21, 2019 and July 30, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

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.

Funders

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