For generations, New York City has maintained a notoriously violent and inhumane jail complex on Rikers Island. Activists, elected officials, legal aid organizations, and formerly incarcerated New Yorkers and their families fought for decades to shutter the island's jails and invest in communities most harmed by mass incarceration. In 2019, the New York City Council voted to close Rikers Island by 2026, but a new political and economic landscape presents new challenges.

Vera's Closing Rikers Island project supports the years-long struggle to reframe justice in New York City and make closing Rikers Island a reality. Our project provides advocates, partners, and city leaders with data and recommendations for newly responsive, pragmatic, and fiscally responsible steps to make good on the city’s promise to close the jail complex by 2026.

Project Objectives

  • Contribute data, research, policy, and budget analysis to the movement to close and repurpose Rikers Island;

  • Map a path to shrinking New York City’s carceral footprint and eliminate racial disparities within the pretrial detention system;

  • Advocate for non-carceral public safety solutions that invest in communities most harmed by mass incarceration.