How Rikers Island Became a Vehicle for Justice (Once It Started Shutting Down)

May 12, 2021

Environmental Justice, News, Renewable Rikers

Image: thank you to City Council for Renewable Riker's bills

The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) recently highlighted the importance of the Renewable Rikers campaign as a means of both environmental reform and social justice, in an article focused on the story of an Italian immigrant mother, Anna Pastoressaand her son, Jairo, who spent nearly a decade incarcerated in Rikers Island. The facility is known for its inhumane conditions, abuse at the hands of guards, and use of solitary confinement — even for minors. Pastoressa is now a founding member of the Freedom Agenda, where she joins other advocates and formerly incarcerated people and their families in fighting to dismantle the unjust incarceration system in New York City and reform the police and court systems 

NYLPI is proud to join advocates like Pastoressa in not only moving to close the Rikers Island jails but also transform the facility into a space that will contribute to a greener and more just New York City. Converting Rikers Island by creating new infrastructure for green initiatives will reduce the burden on communities of color, disproportionately forced to live in hazardous health conditions – for example, because of polluting, fossil-fuel peaker” power plants in their neighborhoods. 

As tharticle highlights, three bills have recently passed as a result of the Renewable Rikercampaign that promise change beginning as soon as this summer. Most importantly, as Senior Supervising Counsel Melissa Iachán says in the article, “as the vision becomes more concretewe want to ensure that, at every step, residents of environmental justice communities have a say, but even more so that survivors of Rikers who’ve returned home are leading the conversation.” 

Access the full article here to learn more about the Renewable Rikers campaign.  

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