Viewed from 15,000 feet, the conversation about criminal justice in New York City can appear to have made a cosmic leap from the days of frantic prison construction and soaring incarceration rates to a political consensus around closing jails and a dwindling state inmate population.
But from the viewpoint of JoAnne Page, a former defense lawyer turned leading advocate for incarcerated people, and Stanley Richards, once an inmate and now a member of the commissions that oversee jails and plan for a day without Rikers, there is this truth: Prisons and jails still damage thousands of people at great public cost and with little public-safety rationale.
Page and Richards talked with Max & Murphy about where Rikers closure stands, the enormous problem of the prison-to-shelter pipeline, the interplay between criminal justice and immigration courts, the stigma around “violent” criminals, the pros and cons of indeterminate sentencing and the stalled state reforms of speedy trial, bail and discovery.
“The fact that is was close, means we should continue to push,” Richards said. “But it’s going to require the state to be bold on this.”
Listen to our conversation below: