The Fire This Time:
The Rikers Island Revolt and the Crisis in the City Jails
NYU National Lawyers Guild Forum
Michael Letwin, October 25, 1990
1. Department of Correction policy of open season on inmates raises key questions about Dinkins administration, which reflects broader criminal justice system policy.
2. More fundamental point is explosion of jail population to highest point ever (21,000 today, v. 10,000 in 1983). This reflects the institutional racism of the criminal justice system.
A. City jails = 95% AA and Latino, i.e., 1 in 4. Seventy percent are pretrial detainees.
B. War on drugs = war on African-Americans and Latinos
2. Crime and violence
3. Cuts & layoffs, city labor contracts.
3. Alternative: Deal with abuse, crime through self-empowerment of poor, people of color, workers, through movement independent from Democratic politicians, to demand:
1. Deficit: Tax the rich
2. No layoffs, adequate social services
3. Decent union contracts
4. End police and corrections abuse
5. End racist and sexual preference violence
6. Stop using CJS to deal with crack crisis: legalize drugs. This would make drugs available to users, and take the profit out of the violent turf wars.