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PROPOSED CUTS TO RIKERS PROGRAM PROVIDERS POSE THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY

Six nonprofit organizations were shocked to learn that they are facing $17 million in cuts to their Rikers Island programs.

Slashing millions from critical jail-based programs at Rikers Island directly contradicts the commitment to public safety espoused by Mayor Adams. The Department of Correction (DOC) made the decision to cut the services these organizations offer at Rikers in response to the Mayor’s executive budget and plans to assume the responsibilities themselves. The DOC does not have the expertise or cultural competence to perform the same functions as the professionals who are currently delivering services – many of whom have lived experience in the criminal justice system. If the planned cuts are adopted, programming will shutter in July.

The providers cover 179 housing units every day across DOC jails, including 18 observation units for people with serious mental illness, and seven units for people in protective custody. Approximately 1,700 people choose to participate in these non-mandated services from these providers daily.

For years, trusted providers like Osborne Association, The Fortune Society, FedCap Inc., Greenhope, SCO Family of Services, and The Horticultural Society of NY (The HORT) have delivered high-quality interventions. Critical jail-based programs facing elimination include non-violent conflict resolution, discharge planning, cognitive behavioral therapy, employment readiness, and other forms of support. By keeping people engaged in healing processes and skills-building activities, these programs contribute to safety within the jails and also pave the way for brighter futures post-incarceration and are crucial to fostering safer communities.

PROVIDER QUOTES

“Eliminating programs that offer a source of stability, hope, and connection for thousands of incarcerated individuals is more than just cruel – it will have a lasting public safety impact on Rikers and in communities across New York City,” says Archana Jayaram, President and CEO of Osborne Association. “This proposal by DOC is reckless and may affect recidivism rates and the ability for people to restore their lives after incarceration.”

“We are stunned and outraged by this sudden development, which we only learned this week. We urgently call on the Mayor and the Department of Correction to reverse this ill-considered decision that will severely impact the safety of staff and of people incarcerated at Rikers Island at a time when these services are desperately needed. This is a community safety and justice issue—a decision that ends decades of DOC investment in these services and should not be taken lightly. It is vital that the Adams administration fully fund these programs, which are integral to making Rikers Island safer and preparing incarcerated people for stable, secure lives post-release,” said JoAnne Page, President of The Fortune Society. “The city cannot balance its budget at the expense of human rights and public safety.

“The intervention programs offered by Greenhope are a lifeline for justice-involved women seeking to reclaim their lives and find second chances. While we understand that the city is facing increasing budgetary constraints, nonprofits like ours continue to shoulder the costs of critical human services on which thousands of New Yorkers rely. We urge the DOC to consider the impact that these cuts will have on the individuals who so desperately rely on our services to safely reenter into society,” says Lymaris Albors, CEO of Acacia Network, which operates Greenhope Services for Women.

“We believe in restorative justice, and our programming reflects that belief. Let me be clear: lowering recidivism rates and making our communities safer is dependent on our commitment to provide a pathway to rehabilitation and a renewed sense of hope. To eliminate our services is to eliminate that pathway. DOC’s proposed cuts will have a lasting impact on the well-being of countless New Yorkers. We urge the Department to reconsider their decision and to prioritize human services for those who, oftentimes, need them the most,” says Suzette Gordon, Interim President and CEO, SCO Family of Services.

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