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Ahead of Rikers Closure, New York City Must Reduce Court Delays

In a New York Daily News op-ed, AV Executive Vice President of Criminal Justice Jeremy Travis and Director of the Data Collaborative for Justice Mike Rempel lay out a four-part agenda to end the backlog. 

A view of Rikers Island jail complex from afar shows body of water in front, then fencing and buiildings.
Violence at Rikers has reached an all-time high. Last year, 16 incarcerated people died in the facility.(Associated Press file)

One way or another, Rikers Island is going to change. New York City recently voted to shutter the scandal-plagued jail by 2027. At the same time, a federal judge is considering the appointment of a receiver to control the city’s jails. 

As Rikers’ future hangs in the balance, Arnold Ventures Executive Vice President Jeremy Travis has called on New York City to tackle problems in the facility by speeding up court processes.

In 2019, the city’s courts could only resolve 35% of indicted felonies within the national and state standard of 180 days,” Travis wrote in a New York Daily News op-ed with co-author Mike Rempel, director of the Data Collaborative for Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. During the pandemic, backlogs have grown worse. COVID-related restrictions ground trials to a virtual halt.”

This call to action comes at a time when violence at Rikers has reached an all-time high and people are routinely deprived of medical care. Last year, 16 incarcerated people died in the facility.

In their op-ed, Travis and Rempel point to evidence-based practices documented by the National Center for State Courts, which have been successfully tested in Brooklyn courts, and lay out a four-part agenda to help speed up the courts and close the case backlog. 

Trial delays have long been tolerated, though they serve no constructive purpose. They expose people to prolonged suffering, deny crime victims justice, and can preclude swift consequences for people later convicted of heinous crimes.”

Read the entire oped on the New York Daily News website: To close Rikers, unstick the justice system.”