NYUJ’s Response to Mayor de Blasio’s Rikers Emergency Relief Plan

New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ) Executive Director Alexander Horwitz released the following statement on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Rikers emergency relief plan and its call to enact the “Less is More” Act, a parole reform legislation that was passed in June 2021.

“The NYUJ Coalition is gravely concerned by the ongoing humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island and supports the advocacy community’s calls for immediate action, comprehensive decarceration and staffing solutions, and fair and humane policies. However, we must also correct a falsehood that was prominently featured in Mayor de Blasio’s recently-issued emergency relief plan.

“It is inaccurate and baseless to imply that the ‘Less is More’ Act, an essential parole reform recently passed by the State legislature, will immediately help fix the crisis on Rikers. While it is true that the legislation is critical to address the state’s draconian, costly parole system, nothing about the legislation is designed to address Rikers’ most pressing and urgent concerns, including staff shortages and inhumane jail conditions. Furthermore, ‘Less is More’ will only begin to take effect six months after its enactment, while the crisis at Rikers is an emergency today. 

“In other words, Mayor de Blasio is effectively telling someone whose house is on fire to wait half a year, then try anything but calling the fire department. This is an immediate crisis that he has the tools to address now. “‘Less is More’ is an important step towards reforming New York’s criminal legal system, but it is disingenuous for Mayor de Blasio to imply that it is an effective solution for the humanitarian crisis occurring today at Rikers. We hope both local and state policymakers work to solve the worsening Rikers crisis with tangible, meaningful, immediate solutions.”