Issue Briefs

Freedom Agenda Issue Briefs

This set of Issue Briefs offers a deeper dive into the current state of New York City jails, and the plans to close them. A great supplement to our teach-in, What 2021 Candidates Need to Know about Closing RikersDownload them individually below, or download all seven in a single PDF by clicking here.

  1. Rikers Island is a Toxic Penal Colony – Rikers is neither a single prison nor a single jail. It is the last remaining penal colony in the United States. It remains a stain on New York City and must be closed forever.

  2. Existing Borough Jails in NYC Are Unfit for HumansAside from the 10 jails on Rikers, NYC operates 4 jails in the boroughs. All existing borough jails are as decrepit as the jails on Rikers.

  3. We Can Reduce & Eventually End Jail Incarceration in NYC For more than 20 years, crime rates in NYC have dropped along with incarceration rates.

  4. Renovated Borough Facilities & Ongoing Organizing Can Reduce the Harms of IncarcerationWe can and must still influence the design and operation of the new borough-based jail system.

  5. We Can and Must Invest in Communities & Address Conditions of ConfinementIt is not an option for the City to say it cannot afford to provide humane treatment.

  6. Rikers’ Future Should be Determined by the People/Communities Harmed By Its LegacyAfter hundreds of conversations with people who’ve been incarcerated on Rikers and had loved ones there, a consensus emerged: use the island for green infrastructure through the Renewable Rikers Plan.

  7. Only Continued Organizing Will Guarantee the Closure of Rikers – On the commitments the City has made – we must hold them accountable. Where the City has yet not agreed to our demands, we must continue to organize and win.


Freedom Agenda organizes people and communities impacted by incarceration. Join our membership today!

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