In the summer of 2015, Katal partnered with JustLeadershipUSA and together founded, built, and directed the #CLOSErikers campaign. In the spring of 2017, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio finally agreed to shutter the notorious jail facility. In the wake of the mayor's announcement, the political circumstances evolved; dozens of reform steps need to be taken at the city and state level to achieve closure. Toward that end, in the summer of 2017, Katal stepped down from our formal leadership role in the more narrowly defined #CLOSErikers Campaign, and concluded our partnership with JLUSA.
We pivoted to focus on the numerous city and state reforms necessary to close Rikers, transform the criminal justice system as a whole, and redefine safety and justice in New York. This includes building community-based pre-arrest diversion programs in various cities, coordinating a statewide network for bail reform (#BailReformNY), pursuing speedy trial reform (#SpeedyTrialNow), and zeroing in on parole and probation reforms to reduce detention and supervision periods.
The summary covers the period of Katal's co-founding and co-leadership of the campaign, from August 2015 to August 2017, and includes how the campaign got built, what worked well, and reflections on what could have worked better. Our hope is that this summary serves movements in New York City and beyond in the fight to end mass incarceration and build communities.
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Katal proudly serves as the project director for Albany's innovative Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. Check out our First Year Report which details how LEAD came about in Albany and what's happened since its launch.
In the first year, the Albany LEAD program has diverted dozens of people from incarceration and has contributed to constructive changes in policing practices and stronger police-community relationships. The Albany Times Union story about the report highlights many of the stakeholders involved. Albany's LEAD program shows that criminal justice reform is moving forward at the local level.
There is a growing debate in the U.S. about the future of the Affordable Care Act. While much of the debate is political, it is important to understand the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on public safety. Check out our new fact sheet and dashboard about how the ACA and Medicaid are opportunities to strengthen public safety and health.
Produced in collaboration with Daliah Heller, PhD, MPH, (CUNY School of Public Health), the fact sheet explains how a comprehensive approach to healthcare relieves law enforcement, jails, and prisons of the de facto health and social service role they have been forced to fill in the wake of a widespread opioid epidemic, a national housing crisis, and a historically under-funded community health system.
Coverage and care build capacity on the outside, so health problems aren’t stuck on the inside.
To assist advocates and organizers in their work to end mass incarceration, Katal conducted an analysis and synthesis of over 30 recent criminal justice reform papers, reports, and reform tools, including the National Research Council’s Growth of Incarceration in the United States. Repeated recommendations throughout the reports revealed that there are key reforms that can be implemented at the local level that don't require state or federal policy reform, yet would contribute significantly to reducing the number of people incarcerated in jails and prisons or kept under correctional supervision.
Better by Half: The New York City Story of Winning Large-Scale Decarceration While Increasing Public Safety
October 28, 2016
Authors: Judith Greene, Vincent Schiraldi
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The Harvard Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Justice Strategies, and the Katal Center for Health, Equity and Justice, present Better by Half: The New York City Story of Winning Large-Scale Decarceration while Increasing Public Safety.
In this new report, co-authors Greene and Schiraldi examine New York City’s successful 55 percent incarceration rate decline from 1996 to 2014, coinciding with a 54 percent decline in violent crime. At a time when America grapples with the challenges of and solutions to mass incarceration, New York City provides an effective example of replacing incarceration with more informal, less intrusive dispositions and community-based programs, without jeopardizing public safety.
The paper examines the grassroots advocacy and responsive public officials that made New York City one of the least incarcerated cities in the United States. Given the growing, bipartisan consensus to reduce mass incarceration, the authors encourage other states to recognize the success that can be achieved through bold reform agendas, organizational moxie and powerful public engagement, as demonstrated by New York City.