Women's Community Justice Association (WCJA) submitted testimony before the New York City Council Budget and Oversight Hearings on the Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year 2024. In the testimony, the Director of Policy and Advocacy at WCJA, Imani Webb-Smith, expressed shared outrage at Mayor Adams' proposed budget and implored him and the Council to prepare a just budget.
Calling the proposed budget irresponsible and indefensible, Webb-Smith stressed it puts women and gender-expansive populations at increased risk of detention or incarceration. The proposed budget would increase Corrections' overall budget while starving essential public resources like libraries and after-school centers for communities most in need.
The situation at Rikers Island is urgent, and the proposed budget does not prioritize decarceration. As we know all too well, Rikers Island is in a state of crisis with violence continuing to escalate, staff abuse and neglect being reported, and individuals held there being subjected to inhumane conditions, including extreme overcrowding, lack of access to medical care, unclean facilities, and a culture of violence. WCJA’s #BEYONDrosies campaign continues to call for the accelerated closing of Rose M. Singer Center and Rikers Island for these exact reasons.
NYC continues to bloat the budget of Corrections by diverting resources from historically disinvested populations. This only makes the city less safe and provides police and law enforcement with the financial and political cover necessary to ensure their power effectively remains unchecked, unchanged and unchallenged.
We implore the committee to reject Mayor Adams' proposed budget which makes an already troubling situation into a desperate one by increasing the likelihood that more women and gender-expansive people in New York City wind up behind its notorious jail walls.
The proposed budget must prioritize decarceration to prevent further deaths and abuse at Rikers Island. It must also invest in essential public resources to ensure that systemically deprived communities are not denied access to the services and supports needed to thrive.