Save Rikers Programs Letter

Disability Justice, Environmental Justice, Health Justice, Immigrant Justice, News

Barbed wire on a jail fence

June 20, 2023 

Dear Hon. Mayor Adams and City Council Speaker Adams, 

We represent organizations throughout the City who serve thousands of individuals, families, and children across diverse fields including legal, reentry, mental health, substance use, employment, housing, and beyond. We are alarmed by the unexpected decision to cut $17 million from the NYC Department of Correction (DOC) FY24 budget for supportive programming in our city jails. We implore you to restore this funding for the 6 contracted program providers. 

Programs in our city jails on Rikers Island and the Vernon C. Bain Center (VCBC) are run by Greenhope Services for Women, Fedcap, The Fortune Society, Osborne Association, SCO Family of Services, and the Hort, highly regarded non-profit organizations with a history of success. Together these providers ensure thousands of people receive critical services, including cognitive behavioral therapy, employment readiness, conflict avoidance, and reentry preparation. DOC’s proposed total FY24 budget of $1.17 billion1includes over $110 million allocated for vacant staff positions.2 Cutting only 20% of DOC’s funded vacancies would more than fully fund all of the programs being eliminated. 

The programs DOC is planning to eliminate are associated with safer and healthier environments within jails, increased connection to programs and positive resources, and successful reentry. The importance of programming extends far beyond those who participate on Rikers and at VCBC: their children, families, communities, and we as a City are all safer and far better off when people in jail have access to services 

and opportunities to heal, grow, and transform. Program providers are trained, passionate professionals who provide quality services in less than ideal circumstances, bringing real skills, hope and motivation to people at a very uncertain, destabilizing time in their lives. Program providers work with the more than 50% of people on Rikers with mental health diagnoses, and with the majority of people on Rikers who have experienced childhood trauma and/or victimization. Programs in our jails must be considered essential services and protected as such.

Download the full letter below.


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