Susan Shah hosts panel discussion on closing Rikers Island Jail
Susan Shah, Trinity’s Managing Director for the Racial Justice Initiative

It's Time to Close Rikers Island

The New York City Council, with the support of former Mayor Bill de Blasio, voted in 2019 to close the Rikers Island jail complex by 2027 and build four smaller jails in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Yet Mayor Eric Adams has been unwilling to commit to that timetable and confusion remains about why New York City’s troubled facility needs to close. Progress on borough-based jails has been delayed by local resistance and acrimonious debate.

Rikers Island Jail Panel and Audience on October 15, 2023
Almost 100 people came to Trinity Commons to learn more about closing the Rikers Island jail complex.

Located in the East River and isolated from the rest of New York City, Rikers has historically been known for corruption, inhumane conditions, and violence that affects both detainees and staff. On any given day, almost 6,000 New Yorkers are jailed on Rikers, seven out of eight of them awaiting trial, charged but not convicted, and in most cases detained because they cannot afford cash bail. Almost half of our neighbors incarcerated at Rikers suffer from a mental health issue, and some 85 percent of those detained are Black or Hispanic. 

For almost six years, Trinity Church Wall Street has supported closing  Rikers in accordance with the recommendation of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, chaired by New York State’s former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.


Members of Trinity's Prison Ministry group
Members of Trinity's Prison Ministry organized the panel discussion.

On October 15, 2023, members of Trinity’s Prison Ministry invited experts and those directly impacted to make the case to close Rikers, to educate our neighbors about progress thus far, and to urge folks to join the advocacy efforts. 

We invite you to take action and tell Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Council to follow the law and close the jails on Rikers Island.


Send a message to the Mayor virtually or mail a letter to:
Mayor Eric Adams
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Here is a sample of what to write:

Dear Mayor Adams,
I respectfully urge you to follow the law and close the jails on Rikers Island by 2027. This includes enacting and funding the recommendations made by the Commission on Community Reinvestment and the Closure of Rikers Island, established by Local Law 193-2019, to increase access to housing, health care, mental health services, youth programming and other critical supports that make our communities stronger and safer.


By telephone or email:
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of your district. I am contacting you to respectfully urge you to ensure the City closes the jails on Rikers Island by 2027 as mandated by law. Thank you.

You can find your City Council Member's contact information here.

Watch the highlights of "The Future of Rikers Island: Why it Matters"

Speakers include:

  • Introduction by Susan Shah, Managing Director for the Racial Justice Initiative, Trinity Church Wall Street
  • The Honorable Adrienne Adams, Speaker of the New York City Council 
  • Victor Pate, Co-Director, NY Campaign to Alternatives to Isolated Confinement  
  • The Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, Interfaith Center of New York  
  • Darren Mack, Co-Director, Freedom Agenda  
  • Kandra Clark, Vice President of Policy & Strategy, Exodus Transitional Community

Watch the Full Panel Discussion