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[New York City News]
Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing opposition to his jail building plans by activists who say his ideas are "regressive" not progressive...
Photo: Facebook screenshot

Mayor Bill de Blasio's is running for president as a "progressive" but Boroughs United activists say his jail building plans are "regressive"

Community advocates from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan today announced they have joined forces to launch a new campaign, Boroughs United, to oppose Mayor de Blasio’s plan to build four massive new jails in New York City. The campaign also launched a new website: www.DeBlasiosJails.com.

As Mayor de Blasio pitches himself on the national stage as a progressive presidential candidate, this campaign will point out that the mayor’s proposal is not progressive at all. In fact, it is a regressive plan that will not radically impact criminal justice reform and will instead simply divert billions of dollars in public funding to the creation of new jails that will have many of the same problems seen at other New York City jails, including Rikers Island.

Boroughs United counters that it would be far more progressive to invest those billions of dollars in building communities, strengthening diversion programs, providing alternatives to incarceration for pre-trial detainees, supporting mental health and drug use treatment programs, ensuring speedy trials, addressing the systemic issues related to conditions on Rikers Island, and protecting the rights of detained and incarcerated women, children and men of color.

“It’s time for Democrats across the nation to recognize that Bill de Blasio isn’t a real progressive if he’s willing to spend billions of dollars on a regressive plan to build new jails instead of investing in real criminal justice reforms,” said Nancy Kong, spokesperson for Boroughs United. “Mayor de Blasio should withdraw his deeply flawed plan and focus on progressive reforms that strengthen communities and protect human rights.”

The Boroughs United campaign includes leaders from local community groups in communities across each of the four boroughs affected by the mayor’s new jails proposal, including Neighbors United Below Canal, South Bronx Unite and the Kew Gardens Civic Association, and Fair Jails Brooklyn.

Mayor de Blasio’s controversial proposal involves building four new jails – each with approximately 1,500 beds – on sites in Mott Haven in the South Bronx, Boerum Hill in Brooklyn, Kew Gardens in Queens, and Tribeca/Chinatown in Manhattan. The plan is currently being rushed through the city’s ULURP process for land use approval, which effectively deprives the public of the opportunity to comment on the plan’s actual effectiveness and potential harm, as well as explore more fiscally responsible alternatives. The “process” includes feedback from each community board and borough president, approval from the City Planning Commission and then will ultimately be decided by a vote in the City Council. Every one of the affected community boards rejected the Mayor’s plan.

The plan has been repeatedly criticized by local community advocates and criminal justice reform activists who believe this is an expansion of jails and will not actually result in any meaningful reforms to protect the human and moral rights of incarcerated New Yorkers. The proposal is fiscally irresponsible. It is focused only on the logistics of holding and processing the detained and incarcerated, creating space for support programs that have yet to be detailed, along with some token offerings of square footage for the community – in essence more new jails.

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio has recently spent most of his time touring the nation and claiming to be a viable progressive candidate for President. At home, though, more New Yorkers are stepping up to oppose his regressive plan for new jails.

The new Boroughs United campaign will focus on spreading that message far and wide.

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