The Fortune Society News of the Week — the week of April 10, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A wide-ranging collection of news and opinion from the previous week focusing on criminal justice policy, advocacy, and reform.

——————————————————————————————————

Relief after re-entry

A new federal bill named for Kalief Browder, who committed suicide after incarceration on Rikers Island, is designed to improve mental health services for those re-entering society after serving jail time. Ronald Day, Vice President of The Fortune Society, said that young men and women at the organization’s Better Living Center are provided with mental health services and other programs to assist with re-entry. He said the mental health assistance makes a big difference in the lives of the formerly incarcerated clients, as does having the services in one location. “It helps to destigmatize mental illness,” Day said. “When you have a 23-year-old saying, ‘I’m going to see my therapist,’ you know you’ve made strides.’”

Manhattan Times News

——————————————————————————————————

Legislation named for Kalief Browder aims to help former prisoners with mental health problems

Clutching a picture of Kalief Browder on the steps of city hall Monday, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) announced his new legislation named in his honor, which seeks to improve mental health services for the formerly incarcerated. Crowley’s bill, called the Kalief Browder Re-Entry Success Act, after the 16-year-old who spent three years on Rikers Island, much of it in solitary confinement. The Bronx [young adult] was frequently beaten by guards and [other incarcerated individuals] and was never formally charged with stealing a backpack. When Kalief was finally released, he struggled with the trauma he endured while in jail, eventually committing suicide in 2015.

Times Ledger

——————————————————————————————————

Budget deal comes together in Albany, after delay and frustration

After a week of impasse and the worst budget crisis of his administration, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo emerged from his Capitol office late Friday night to announce a deal on a $153 billion state budget that includes a plan for tuition-free education at state colleges and raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18. Under the deal announced by the governor, beginning in October 2018, many 16- and 17-year-old offenders would be processed through family court rather than criminal court.

The New York Times

——————————————————————————————————

My brother’s keeper: Akeem Browder on Kalief’s legacy and shutting down Rikers

Ahead of the airing of the final episode of Time: The Kalief Browder Story on Spike TV, the elder Browder spoke with MASS APPEAL about the line of demarcation for his family: all that came before Kalief’s being wrongly accused of stealing a backpack in May of 2010, and all that came after.

MASS APPEAL

——————————————————————————————————

City Council speaker’s bill would help [justice-involved individuals] avoid Rikers by giving them more time to post bail

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will push a bill to delay hauling [justice-involved individuals] off to jail and give them more time to pay bail — part of a drive to reduce admissions to Rikers Island and drive down the population there. Under the legislation, [justice-involved individuals] who owe less than $10,000 in bail would be held at the courthouse for up to 12 hours if officials believe there’s a good chance they’ll be able to pay up.

NY Daily News

——————————————————————————————————

What is Rikers Island?

Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared that within the next decade, the jail complex at Rikers Island would be shut down. The mayor’s announcement was an acknowledgment that despite the hundreds of millions of dollars devoted to fixing the problems in recent years, the jail cannot be saved. The New York Times has been examining problems at Rikers Island, as well as the New York City Correction Department, which oversees it. Here’s what you need to know.

The New York Times

——————————————————————————————————

Without Rikers, learning to love the jail next door

Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed that Rikers would be closed, an action that will take years to complete and one he had been resistant to embrace. In accordance with the theory that smaller institutional facilities can more effectively achieve their goals, the Lippman Commission determined that Rikers should be replaced with a series of smaller jails, close to the courthouses in urban centers. (Through various means, including, in some instances, the elimination of cash bail, the city’s jail population would first be reduced to about 5,500 from its current 9,700.) The notion of the neighborhood jail, though, is of course politically risky.

The New York Times

——————————————————————————————————

As pols mull closing Rikers, New Yorkers overwhelmingly support reforming jail system: survey

New Yorkers overwhelmingly support a wide range of criminal justice reforms to reduce the number of [justice-involved individuals] as part of the plan to shut down Rikers Island, according to a survey commissioned by an independent panel that recommended the closure of the jail complex. The poll found 87% of the 800 New Yorkers surveyed support holding people in jail prior to a conviction “only if they present a high risk to the safety of the community.”

NY Daily News

——————————————————————————————————

How white America has created a colony of incarceration for people of color

In “A Colony in a Nation,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes examines how the American criminal justice system has been formed and deformed. The title of the book contains an argument: that within a nation of laws, Americans have created a virtual penal colony of mass incarceration — an archipelago of punishment that is meant to give everyone on the outside a sense of security but, paradoxically, serves only to heighten the country’s unappeasable collective anxiety.

The Washington Post

——————————————————————————————————

Simplifying how the courts seal criminal records

New legislation in Pennsylvania would change the now-costly and time-consuming process—and mitigate the employment obstacles people face when they cannot shake their old convictions.

The Atlantic

——————————————————————————————————

“When a parent is taken away, it’s like a death”: Two states consider bills to keep parents out of jail

Ayana Aubourg has one childhood memory of her father that does not involve a jail or prison visiting room. “The only thing I can remember is him making spaghetti,” said Aubourg, whose father was sentenced to 10 years in prison when she was seven years old. She saw him once a year in a visiting room that she remembers as being “cold and controlled.” Later, a playroom was added for the children visiting their fathers, but the presence of a few toys did little to make the atmosphere warmer or cheerier. “It’s still a very traumatic experience,” Ayana said.

Truthout

Categories: News

Contact

No appointment necessary!
Call us or stop by our main
office in Long Island City
headquarters during visiting
hours to learn more about
our programs and services.

Long Island City (Main Office)

29-76 Northern Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101

N/R/Q | Get Directions

(212) 691-7554
Mon-Thurs: 8am - 8pm
Fri: 8am - 5pm

Castle Gardens

625 W. 140th St.
New York, NY 10031

Get Directions

No walk-ins accepted at this location. Please call or visit our main office in Long Island City.

The Castle (Fortune Academy)

630 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10031

Get Directions

No walk-ins accepted at this location. Please call or visit our main office in Long Island City.