The Future of Criminal Justice in NYC is Smaller and Community Based

The Future of Criminal Justice in NYC is Smaller and Community Based


The closure of Rikers Island is an end to a troubled past and the beginning of new possibilities for criminal justice in New York City. Our latest issue of The Fortune News provides a comprehensive look at what could be on the horizon, the work Fortune has done to make this change a reality, and the negativity in Rikers that must not be repeated.

Beginning the conversation within the publication is Stanley Richards, Fortune’s Executive Vice President. Stanley is a part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Implementation Task Force Steering Committee for the city’s next phase in criminal justice. This working group is collaborating closely with the Mayor’s administration to build smaller facilities in each borough, so individuals incarcerated in them can access courts easier and receive community-centered approaches to their rehabilitation.

One of these facilities may be in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. As an individual with justice involvement and Bronx resident, Stanley has direct experience with both the challenges Rikers presents in maintaining family bonds and the vital role local communities play in the successful reentry of individuals impacted by the criminal justice system.

Learn more about this proposed facility in Stanley’s latest opinion piece on Plus, read an excerpt from Stanley’s forward in The Fortune News below.

Rikers instills a “predator or prey” approach to life that further challenges the likelihood of successful community reentry.

But in or out of jail, no one deserves to be treated inhumanely. All individuals with justice involvement deserve an opportunity to have their cases heard and judged fairly. And they deserve to learn, grow, and change in a supportive environment.


Rikers Island is the antithesis of these aims, which is why The Fortune Society is a long-time advocate for its closure.

The Fortune Society is working to ensure that the next era of criminal justice in NYC after Rikers Island is smaller and community-based

Since our founding, Fortune has believed that incarceration and detention should be options of last resort. For justice to truly be served, speedy trial, rehabilitation, and if necessary, judicious use of incarceration must be part of its core. What public safety or individual accountability purpose does it serve to incarcerate people for an extensive amount of time in an environment that only increases hopelessness, anger, and despair? Why shouldn’t we break the cycle of incarceration when we know that incarceration and the systemic failure of procedural justice breeds negative thoughts and behavior, not accountability and change? What if, instead, we approached criminal justice through a procedural justice lens that included speedy adjudication of cases, family and community engagement, lifetime support, and no wrong door for reentry?

Every day at Fortune, we see the positive impact that this type of compassionate approach has on the individuals who walk through our doors. With Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to closing Rikers Island, we are equally as passionate in ensuring that the next evolution of criminal justice in New York City is one with smaller facilities in each borough and contains what is necessary to rebuild lives: family and community engagement; perpetual, lifetime support; and multiple points of access for reentry.


I am honored to be on the Implementation Task Force Steering Committee for this next phase. As Co-Chair of the Working Group on Design, for instance, we are developing a set of design principles that are grounded in a universal understanding of how we value and treat members of our community, family, and friends. These design principals will guide the architect and builders as they construct New York City’s next generation of detention facilities.

These facilities will be designed to communicate to all who enter, work, visit, or are detained in them that they matter and are valued.

Read more in the latest issue of The Fortune News.

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*Written by Stanley Richards, Executive Vice President of The Fortune Society, with Root Stitches LLC

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