Trinity Church’s Racial Justice strategic initiative is committed to dismantling racism by ending mass incarceration. This initiative advances Trinity’s strategic mission goal to build up the neighborhoods of New York City, by advocating for justice to amplify the voices of those who are not heard, by speaking in the pulpit and in public, and by providing support to organizations that work with us to confront injustice, racism, and inequality.
Racial disparities are embedded at every level of the criminal justice system. The population of New York City is 26 percent Black, yet 53 percent of people held in jail are Black. In a city that is 29 percent Latino, 34 percent of people held in jail are Latino. In total, almost 90 percent of the jail population in New York City is Black or Latino. Many remain in jail without a conviction because they cannot afford to pay bail. People of color comprise 37 percent of the U.S. population, but 67 percent of the prison population.
In the United States, there are 2.2 million people in prison and jails, which represents an increase of 500 percent over the last 40 years. Mass incarceration exacerbates structural inequality and has created the most pressing issues of our time. Immigrants face discrimination, exploitation, and are often targets of punitive laws, policies, and practices. Students of color and LGBTQ young people encounter school systems that are not culturally responsive to their identities and apply discipline that can lead to their criminal justice involvement. Lastly, the voices of those who have experienced marginalization and oppression are often missing from our cultural narratives, and the real history of how we got here from slavery to mass incarceration, is not widely shared.
The Racial Justice Initiative of Trinity Church Wall Street supports institutions, networks, alliances and movements that are developing strategies and approaches to advance racial equity and address the structural inequality perpetuated by the criminal justice system.
- Independent Commission on Criminal Justice Reform. “A More Just New York City” pg. 24 & pg.34
- Sentencing Project, Criminal Justice Facts
Ending Money Bail
No one should be held in jail simply because they cannot afford to buy their liberty. A system that determines freedom based on the size of a person’s bank account is a broken system. Poverty is not, and should not be, a crime. Trinity Church Wall Street is working with our partners and supporters to ensure that bail reform becomes state law in 2019. To learn more about our efforts to end money bail, click here.
Closing Rikers Island Jails
Rikers Island is New York City’s main jail complex, historically known for corruption, inhumane conditions, and violence. The city has suggested a ten-year plan to close Rikers, but that is far too long. To learn more about what Trinity and other faith communities are doing to help speed the closing of Rikers, click here.
Racial Justice Grants
Grantmaking in early 2019 will predominately focus on organizations in New York City and supports advancing justice, promoting strong youth development and empowerment, and transforming narratives around ending mass incarceration and promoting racial healing. To learn more about our racial justice grantmaking goals, click here.
Arts as Advocacy
Trinity frequently sponsors art installations, exhibitions, and cultural programming that have a strong social justice component. Recent projects include Scene & Unseen: Facing Race through Film, a conference to explore and discuss race in the United States through the lens of film, book talks with authors David Blight and Austin Channing Brown, and Pauli Murray: Imp, Crusader, Dude, Priest, an interactive exhibit about the first African-American woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest. Learn more here.
Task Force Against Racism
The Task Force addresses issues of diversity and racial justice in church and society through education, service, and prayer. It provides a congregational forum for dialog and activities to encourage all people to live out the Gospel in unity and harmony. Learn more here.
Trinity supports prisoners and their loved ones through education, advocacy, re-entry, and work that prevents future incarceration. Activities include visits to prisons, writing to prisoners, and partnering with organizations to advocate for criminal justice reform Learn more about our support for justice-involved individuals.
Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend of Service
Trinity annually honors the life and ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with family-friendly service opportunities open to all. Activities include participating in the annual Women’s March in New York City, poverty simulation, racial justice advocacy opportunities, and hunger-relief programming with Hunger Free America. Learn more about events from past years here.
Trinity Church and Leadership and Public Service High School have a longstanding and active partnership. Recent projects include Keep It Reel: Facing Race Through Film, a film project and festival, and Justice for Sergio, a three-episode podcast and original theater piece about the death of high school senior, Sergio Reyes. Learn more here.