Our State Level Work


Decarceration and Movement Building in Connecticut and New York

Over the last 20 years, advocates (including Katal founders and staff) have advanced impressive criminal justice and drug policy reforms in in Connecticut and New York. In both states, crime rates and prison populations are down, and both states have closed prisons and are frequently cited as models for reform. Yet mass incarceration and the drug war still continue, jail and prison populations remain stubbornly high and more far reaching reforms are still needed. To truly end mass incarceration and the drug war, Katal works on systemic change, building a decarceration agenda in CT and NY to secure health, equity, and justice for everyone.


Pretrial Justice - Speedy Trial Reform

New York’s speedy trial law is broken. In New York City alone, nearly 80% of the people in jail are detained pre-trial – they are not yet convicted of any crime. Yet severe court delays and a lack of speedy trial reform leads to people spending months or years in jail, just waiting for their day in court.

Katal is working to fix speedy trial in New York by supporting “Kalief’s Law,” named after Kalief Browder. Kalief, charged with allegedly stealing a backpack, spent three years in jail awaiting his day in court. By passing Kalief’s Law, we can take steps to fix New York’s broken speedy trial process.  For more information:


Pretrial Justice - Bail Reform

There is an urgent need for bail reform in New York. Thousands of New Yorkers are detained each year simply because they can’t afford to pay bail. This wealth-based detention is unjust, inhumane, and discriminatory. Yet unlike other states, New York’s bail statute and bail practices make reform particularly complicated. Differences in how bail works between New York City and Upstate New York are so extreme that while New York has one bail statute, in practice there are two distinct bail systems in the state. Additionally, New York’s statute has features which make it different than other states, and provide unique opportunities for sensible fixes. Katal is working with advocates around New York to develop effective bail reform plans that account for the complexity of bail in the Empire State and ensure that those directly impacted by bail practices are part of the process to devise smart solutions.


Harm Reduction Approaches To Improve Safety & Health

In the wake of the opioid overdose and addiction crisis, communities are demanding new approaches to drug addiction, overdose prevention, and access to treatment. Katal is working with local communities in Connecticut and New York to develop harm reduction oriented interventions to improve safety and health. This includes training police and public health departments in harm reduction, developing Community Leadership Teams, and supporting access to healthcare.


Training: Building Leadership and Organizing Capacity – BLOC

Our Building Leadership and Organizing Capacity (BLOC) model is our flagship training and leadership development program. Through BLOC, we train people in models of social change; the how-to’s of community organizing and advocacy; leadership development; strategic planning; issue cuts; and more. We coach and mentor new and veteran organizers and advocacy organizations. BLOC was developed in collaboration with the Perrin Family Foundation, which supports Katal’s work with youth organizers in Connecticut.


Women and Girls Justice Project

There is a growing realization that our society criminalizes race, poverty, homelessness and gender. All too often, incarceration has become the strategy in which gender-based violence is tackled and dealt with. This project  works to bring awareness to the often over-looked dehumanization and criminalization of women who have been and continue to be victims of gender-based violence. This project in no way intends to undermine or negate the existence of violence and criminalization against men; yet, it is the goal of this project to focus on and address, and empower those women society deems worthless and insignificant.

Simply put, if we are to move forward and affect change, we must be honest in our analysis of the many problems women face in the criminal justice system and speak truth to power to those who have allowed violence to be perpetuated against women.

Technical Assistance

Katal provides technical assistance to select groups. Our technical assistance options include developing strategic plans, creating lean and effective campaigns, developing policy reform agendas, connecting harm reduction and public safety, advocacy communication strategies, developing front-end diversion programs, and more. If you’re interested in our TA services, please contact Melody Lee - Melody [at] Katalcenter.org.