New York City Shuts Down Rikers Island- What Now?
Last week, Thursday, in NYC, emotions were high, tension was explosive and decisions were made to build four new jails and to close Rikers Island by 2026. A concept that myself at 15 years old Kalief at 16 years old could never conceive. Of course the vision to Shutdownrikers that is responsible for trauma in people like me and my brother and left a horrendous stain in New York’s history is an epic development.
As many know I have taken the torch in my family's name to advocate both for better conditions and to shut down this facility. In all honesty, I couldn’t agree with a city that exchanges one jail structure that lasted too long and carried such an atrocious background as Rikers Island so that another could live in its legacy is the solution. However to remove myself from the directly impacted role to a role that will be objective for the greater scale I listened to many other advocates and ideas that comes with a decision of this magnitude.
The Kalief Browder Foundation (KBF) in conjunction with evidenced based research has developed programs that would be a benefit to New York City by reducing recidivism, keeping communities safe and keeping families together. This would then translate into a reduced population within the jails, citizens whom return to society from incarceration are healthy and whole as well as the city of New York would have to use less police manpower.
The development of evidenced based programs for correctional based centers will start the process of reducing recidivism while the population is in the correctional based setting. These programs will consist of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Civic Engagement (CE), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) all within a Therapeutic Community (TC). The foundation has also developed programs for Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI’s), which focuses on community engagement.
These approaches have been developed and designed to target in specific the criminal justice population and to reduce recidivism. CEO of the KBF knows from her experience and work that many offenders have anti-social thinking patterns that contribute to continued crime. In order to enhance their quality of life, change has to start within the jail setting.
It's time that we move forward for the health and safety of our communities, for those incarcerated and the families directly impacted. In every step of the way New York City policymakers, legislators and elected officials are confronted with organizations like ours that are dedicated to helping this transition thoughtfully carried out!