Protesters calling on mayor to invest in resources working to close Rikers Island instead of DOC budget
Advocates and elected officials rallied outside of City Hall on Friday to call on the mayor to invest in community organizations and resources that work towards closing Rikers Island, instead of putting more money into the budget of the Department of Correction.
They want the city’s money to go toward groups that assist incarcerated people instead of the DOC, making their voices heard ahead of the City Council’s hearing to discuss the proposed 2024 budget on Friday.
“We can prevent the deaths on Rikers Island by making sure that the right investments are put where they need to be,” said Andre Ward, associate vice president of the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy at The Fortune Society.
This week, Rubu Zhao became the second person to die at Rikers Island in 2023, according to the DOC. Over 20 people have died in the jail between 2021 and now.
The proposed DOC budget for 2024 is $1.17 billion, including a $17 million cut to providers like Osborn Association – one of the many who offer housing, employment, and re-entry resources to incarcerated persons and those impacted by criminal justice.
Council members say it’s time for the city to end this massive humanitarian crisis.
“It can start by closing Rikers, it can start by providing services and supporting the organizations and continuing the funding of those that are doing that work every day,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan.
These advocacy groups are calling on all of their supporters to come out to Foley Square on Wednesday, May 24 at 5 p.m., where they will march to City Hall in a continued protest of the mayor’s 2024 proposed DOC budget.