Leaving Rikers: What the New York Women's Foundation Is Doing for Women in New York City's Worst Jail
The New York Women’s Foundation (NYWF) created a Justice Fund in 2018 to address mass incarceration and its effects on women, girls and transgender and gender nonconforming communities in New York City. The Justice Fund’s first round of grants in 2019 focuses on the closure of Rikers Island, which has a long history of violence and other problems and is slated to shut down in 2027. The fund intends to amplify the voices and power of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated and their relatives while four new city jails are established in Rikers’ place.
“Too often, those most impacted by incarceration are the ones we never hear from. At the core of the Justice Fund’s work is the belief that they are experts and should be included in all aspects of advocacy and systems change,” Ana Oliveira, NYWF president and CEO said in a statement. The fund is backing five community groups with $700,000. Its funding partners are the Art for Justice Fund, Ford Foundation, Frances Lear Foundation and Pinkerton Foundation.
The U.S. has the highest prison population rate in the world, and lately, more funders have been paying attention. The foundations taking on mass incarceration include MacArthur, Arnold Ventures, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Open Philanthropy Project, Ford, Open Society Foundations and the Charles Koch Foundation. Funders are backing bail and parole reform, programs that offer alternatives to incarceration and detention (ATI and ATD), and supports for successful re-entry. All of these efforts relate to the transition from Rikers, because a reduction in prisoners is an essential part of its closure...