Our Municipal Work


Reducing Jail Populations

There are approximately 731,000 individuals held daily in local jails across the country. Local jails have 19 times the annual admissions compared to state and federal prisons. Local cities and counties are where the gears of mass incarceration grind on -- over 11 million people go to jail each year in the United States, referred to as a “churn rate.” Most people in jails are individuals who are detained pretrial and are therefore legally presumed innocent. Katal is working in Connecticut and New York for pretrial justice and, reduce the number of people churning through jails every year, and achieve systemic reform to end the drug war and mass incarceration at the local level.


Closing Rikers Island Jail Complex

As a co-founder of #CLOSErikers campaign, Katal directed the field organizing and led the behind-the-scenes strategy to pressure Mayor Bill de Blasio finally agreeing to shut down the facility. Today, closing Rikers the official policy of New York City – and the task ahead is to make closure happen as swiftly as possible.This won’t be easy. For instance, the most exhaustive report yet about how to close Rikers was published by the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, in April 2017.  It details dozens of reforms necessary to make closure possible. Read that report here.

Mayor de Blasio has also issued a report about closing Rikers – read that here.

To truly close Rikers, we must transform the criminal justice system as a whole and redefine safety and justice in New York. In the summer of 2017, to pursue the numerous reforms necessary to secure wide-scale reform, Katal stepped down from our leadership role in the more narrowly defined #CLOSErikers campaign, and concluded our partnership with JLUSA.Because reducing pretrial detention populations are an essential step to make closure possible, Katal is leading efforts in Albany for bail and speedy trial reform, while working at the City level to expedite the closure process.


Pre-Arrest Diversion

Across Connecticut and New York, Katal is working with municipalities and counties to develop approaches to diversion rooted in community leadership and racial equity, and focused on improving public safety and health. One such approach to this is through arrest diversion programs, like LEAD ® -- Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. Katal serves as the program manager for the innovative Albany LEAD program. The Albany program is diverting people away from jail and into non-punitive, harm reduction oriented services. Albany LEAD is widely recognized as a national model because of its innovative use of Medicaid funding to support case management. Check out the background of Albany’s program here, and be sure to read our first year anniversary report about Albany LEAD, here. Interested in developing a pre-arrest diversion program in your area? Please contact Keith Brown at Keith [at] Katalcenter.org.