After decades of advocacy New York City is closer than ever to closing Rikers Island, due to the courage and commitment of formerly incarcerated leaders. We have made important progress, but Rikers Island is not yet closed, and continues to violate the human rights of New Yorkers as long as it is open. Anyone running for elected office in 2021 must be committed to erasing this stain on New York City, and must be accountable to directly impacted people.
These questions are specific, because we cannot afford to be vague about this. But they also point to more fundamental questions such as:
- Do you believe that incarcerated people have fundamental human rights, and that while any person is confined, that the conditions of that confinement matter?
- Do you believe in following the leadership of people most impacted, and standing in solidarity with the people most harmed?
We invited each of the candidates for Mayor of New York City to submit their responses to these questions and participate in conversations with New Yorkers who have had firsthand experience on Rikers Island and in other City jails. Maya Wiley, Shaun Donovan, and Scott Stringer submitted written responses. Andrew Yang and Dianne Morales recorded 1:1 interviews with impacted advocates. All of the remaining candidates declined to participate or ignored calls for accountability on closing Rikers Island. Survivors of Rikers and their loved ones are committed to holding the next administration to the task, and finishing what we started.
Click below to watch videos from that evening:
And here are the three candidates’ full responses: