Dear Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams,
The women, transgender, and gender-non-conforming people at the Rose M. Singer Center (Rosie’s) on Rikers Island have long been mistreated in our city. As the city moves to close Rikers, they deserve an accessible, safe, and humane facility of their own, that is separate from men. Securing the former women’s correctional facility at Bayview for this purpose would continue Chelsea’s legacy as a national leader on LGBTQIA and civil rights issues.
The city’s current plan would keep those at Rosie’s on Rikers Island for another five years. Then, the population would be relocated to a new Kew Gardens, Queens jail opening in 2027, where they would share spaces and staff with men. Manhattan is where the greatest number of those at Rosie’s are charged, and families from there would face long commutes on public transportation to visit loved ones.
While Rosie’s is a standalone facility for women, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people, they would share an entrance and recreation spaces with CIS-gender men at Kew Gardens. This population has high rates of domestic violence and trauma, and the Kew Gardens set up violates best practices that recommend full sight and sound separation from men to reduce retraumatization.
Bayview can provide a more readily available, accessible, and safe standalone site. It can be transformed into a Women’s Center for Justice that serves residents of inside and outside of the building. The Center can be a secure facility operated by non-profits to break the cycle of incarceration with trauma-informed care and healing.
As governor and mayor, you can address the crisis at Rikers and improve safety and justice by coordinating the transfer of Bayview from the state to the city for those currently at the Rose M. Singer Center.