Advocates urge Hochul to stop planned transfer of women, transgender inmates from Rikers Island
Advocates and elected officials gathered at Bryant Park on Monday to protest Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to transfer certain Rikers Island inmates to maximum security prisons.
Earlier this month, the governor announced her plan to begin moving 230 women and transgender inmates from the Rikers Island jail complex to maximum security state prisons in Westchester County over the next few weeks.
Hochul says this move will help combat safety issues and public health concerns.
However, activist Melania Brown and others say this plan would cause more harm than good.
"Transferring transgender women and women, vulnerable individuals, to a maximum-security prison without them even being sentenced is horrific,” Brown says. “It's inhumane. It makes no sense."
Brown says her sister Layleen, a transgender woman, lost her life on Rikers’ watch in 2019. She says former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio are all to blame.
Brown says she will do whatever it takes to make sure no more women suffer the way her sister did.
"The blood of my sister and so many others is on the hands of the governor, on the hands of the mayor,” she says.
Ceyenne Doroshow was formerly incarcerated in New York and shared a message at the rally for those who call Rikers the worst prison of them all.
"To be placed upstate and taken out of Rikers Island, which don't get me wrong, Rikers Island is a complete mess, but you have to be smart about these choices. Don't take women first,” Doroshow says.
Following the rally, elected officials and advocates traveled east up Sixth Avenue to outside Hochul’s office.
The governor's office is making accommodations for those individuals being transferred from Rikers, including daily familial and legal counsel visitation, expanded access to teleconferencing and access to comprehensive physical and mental health services for those transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.