The roughly 300 women and gender-expansive people incarcerated at Rikers Island are uniquely vulnerable to elevated risks of sexual abuse and re-traumatization, especially amidst the current climate of widespread violence, dysfunction, and lack of access to essential services. As an example, 80% of women on Rikers are receiving treatment for mental illness; two-thirds more than the number of men receiving the same.
New York City is legally required to close Rikers by August 2027. To achieve this, the city plans to lower the number of women and gender-expansive people held daily to 100 or fewer. Building on our July 2021 report Closing Rikers Island: A Roadmap for Reducing Jail in New York City, this report presents safe, effective, and gender-responsive recommendations to meet this goal and reduce the number of people incarcerated in New York City. Recommendations to achieve these reductions include expanding and adequately funding existing diversion programs for women and gender-expansive populations, strengthening housing and treatment services to prevent crime, implementing an early needs assessment to determine history of mental illness and domestic violence, and establishing a citywide Population Review Team that focuses on women and gender-expansive people.
This report is a joint project with the Women’s Community Justice Association, the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, and the Data Collaborative for Justice at John Jay College.