Defunding and Abolishing NYPD = Ending all investments in borough-based jails. 1 billion in cuts to the city budget means nothing if 11 Billion goes towards incarcerating New Yorkers. We need a moratorium on jail building. #AbolishNYPD #CloseRikersNow

Abolitionist Recommendations to Defund NYPD, With No New Jails & Close Rikers Now

Disclaimer: This document is authored by a broad group of people, not one specific organization. It only refers to changes that may be made through the budget, and not to the many other things that must happen to end the era of mass criminalization in NYC.

This is a reallocated version of the proposed NYC FY21 budget created by a broad-ranging group of abolitionists, including organizers, lawyers, mothers, artists, and lifetime New Yorkers, of many ages, ethnicities, abilities, and religions, who care about this city. We firmly assert that the only way to actually keep New Yorkers safe is to cut the NYPD budget to zero —  a much higher cut than the $1 billion currently being floated as the limit of possibilities.  We support the general demands of NYC Budget Justice as well as the collectivized Abolish NYPD People’s Budget found here, but strongly urge the City Council to go further towards ending the era of mass criminalization in NYC. 

The defunding of police has little meaning while the city invests in locking up generations of Black and immigrant people in New York City. We therefore also assert that there can be no real impact of cuts to policing if there are no corollary cuts to NYC’s budget for cages, including eliminating funding for new jails and cutting the Department of Corrections budget as part of a decarceration strategy. “Defunding police” applies to all agents of policing inside New York City, from NYPD to Corrections Officers. In the past three months alone, we have seen the state weaponize COVID-19 to kill Black, queer, trans, poor, disabled, undocumented, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian people incarcerated at Rikers, and use the NYPD to brutally assault Black liberation protesters.

Although this document and these suggestions focus on the budget under the purview of the New York City Council and Mayor, there are many state-based policies, such as pre-trial detention, subway policing, and supervision, that must be changed simultaneously.

Governor Cuomo, and any Governor after him, must do more than placation and performance by divesting from police across the board. New Yorkers do not need policing, and defunding police is a call to transition funding towards non-carceral municipal crisis intervention and community care systems.  The NYPD, ICE, District Attorneys, and the Department of Corrections collude together to produce a police state in New York City.  

There is no need for a commission to review what we already know—that New York City is a police state and puts profit over people.

The NYPD brutalized Abner Louima in 1997, killed Eric Garner and Akai Gurley in 2014, and killed Saheed Vassell in 2018. Kalief Browder committed suicide in 2015 after being held on Rikers Island for 3-years, correction officers laughed at Layleen Polanco minutes before she was found dead in a cell in 2018, and most recently Raymond Rivera contracted coronavirus in Rikers Island and died before he was able to be released, despite having orders for release.  It is impossible for the City Council, Mayor de Blasio, or Governor Cuomo to save face when they have been in power while Rikers remains open, as cops harass and abuse Black and immigrant New Yorkers, and as New York City plans to become home to four new jails. 

The city’s elected representatives must start by making meaningful cuts to the police department, the District Attorney offices, and the Department of Corrections. The city must move funds towards ending municipal austerity and instead invest in high-quality public healthcare, education, housing, and transportation, as well as community safety, non-carceral crisis intervention, and mental health support (models found here). For too long, City Hall has been rotted by the influence and reach of those who profit from police, prisons, and prosecution. The time for abolition is now.

We reiterate our support of the broad demands found here, and as follows, 

  1. Release the Council’s detailed NYPD cuts proposal immediately to allow for public review and complete transparency.
  2. Cut NYPD budget and officer headcount by half in FY21.
  3. Get cops out of schools and issues that could be addressed by social services and community workers in FY21.
  4. Redirect funds to Black communities in FY21.
  5. Fully transparent NYPD budget in FY21.
  6. No rollbacks. 

but think the City Council must go farther to shrink the total reach of policing within New York City, starting with cuts to the budget for new jails. 

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Demands from NYC Jails

UPDATE: We have heard from people currently incarcerated in NYC jails, who are in solidarity with those hunger striking in Hudson County and Essex County jails (in NJ). The demands extend to both the current conditions and status of medical care inside prisons, as well as the need for immediate release and mass clemencies. These are the demands we’ve heard from our comrades in NYC jails.

We demand the same calls issued by the Board of Corrections. That all inmates:   

  • Over 50   
  • With Parole violations   
  • At high risk due to health conditions   
  • With less than a year of sentenced time



Read our full statement of principles.

A statement of our principles.

Incarceration has always been a public health emergency that the deadly threat of COVID-19 only makes more depraved. These demands, developed by a coalition of organizers across New York, provide a clear and urgent path to free them all and bring our loved ones home from jail, prison, and immigration detention.

The global spread of COVID-19 has highlighted a longstanding public health emergency. Due to the lack of a public health infrastructure or social safety net in the United States, vulnerable, structurally marginalized, and oppressed people are (and will continue to be) disproportionately harmed during this crisis. This is nowhere more evident than the country’s treatment of criminalized and imprisoned people, who come from communities already subjected to state disinvestment and poor health conditions, and who are put in further danger through their contact with the criminal legal system.

Criminalized and incarcerated people are our loved ones and community members. Their health and wellbeing impacts our collective health. We are profoundly concerned for them and outraged that jurisdictions across New York State have not taken action to protect their health and safety. People in jails, prisons, immigration detention, and on parole, work release, and electronic monitoring, along with their families, deserve health and dignity and must be a central part of New York State’s pandemic response.

The evidence is clear. Policing, jails, prisons, and immigration detention have always been disastrous for public health and have always rendered oppressed people—Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, immigrants, trans and gender nonconforming people, people who use drugs (especially those with issues of dependency), homeless people, people with mental illness, disabled people, survivors of intimate partner violence, working class people (including sex workers), and the impoverished—vulnerable to injury, illness, and death. (cont.)

Read our full statement of principles.

‪There have been over 50 cases of COVID-19 reported across NY jails and prisons, with both inmates and correctional workers infected. We are facing a crisis of preventable deaths if electeds do not act to free a massive amount of people. #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth @freethemall2020