Rethinking Rikers Island
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has proposed significant reforms to the city’s criminal justice system, with a focus on reducing the population of Rikers Island so that “the dream of shutting it down becomes a reality.” The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, chaired by former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, has been tasked with reducing the use of jail and exploring community-based jail facilities. Mark-Viverito has also asked the Commission to examine "utilizing more community courts."
The Center for Court Innovation will provide research support and technical assistance to the Commission, which is composed of 27 civic leaders from government, academia, business, and the non-profit sector. Other agencies working to support the Commission include the Vera Institute of Justice, the Institute for State and Local Governance, and Latham & Watkins LLP. For more information about the Commission, visit its website. For a fact sheet from the Commission on Rikers Island, bail, and trends in New York City’s incarceration numbers more generally, see here.
The Center for Court Innovation has worked to reduce the use of jail in New York since the creation of the Midtown Community Court in 1993. The Center runs a number of programs, including the Red Hook Community Justice Center and Bronx Community Solutions, that have been documented to help reduce the number of New Yorkers sent to Rikers Island after pleading guilty to an offense. In recent years, the Center's jail reduction work has expanded to include bail reform, the creation of pre-trial supervised release programs, and national technical assistance as part of the MacArthur Foundation's Safety + Justice Challenge.
In the News
Selected coverage of the Lippman Commission: