A sign which reads "Department of Correction, Rikers Island. Home of New York City's Boldest"

Grantee Spotlight: The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform

The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform convenes and educates policymakers, experts, community members, and faith leaders throughout New York City to help close the infamous jails on Rikers Island. Chaired by former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, the Commission is comprised of over two dozen civic leaders with backgrounds in law enforcement, the judiciary, social services, activism, business, and philanthropy—several of whom were once themselves jailed on Rikers.

In its April 2017 report A More Just New York City, the Commission set out a detailed blueprint for closing Rikers. Since then, they have leveraged the blueprint, and the respect commanded by the Commission members, to help the city advance towards the closure of the Rikers jails, improve fairness and equity in the criminal justice system, reduce the use of incarceration, and advance the repurposing of the island for New York City’s long-term future.

Cover of "A More Just New York City" report by the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform

Published in 2017, the "A More Just New York City" report helped advance historic and transformative efforts to permanently close the Rikers Island jail complex and significantly reduce jail incarceration in New York City.

Since the landmark publication of A More Just New York City spurred New York City government to commit to closing Rikers, the Commission has helped secure historic gains: public support for justice reform and closing Rikers, a large decrease in the number of people locked up in New York City jails, increased investments in alternatives to incarceration and rehabilitative programs, approval of a smaller system of borough jail facilities, and advancement towards repurposing Rikers Island for green infrastructure to help New York City achieve its ambitious and critically needed sustainability goals.