As an organization SRLP works tirelessly with & on behalf of incarcerated New Yorkers, particularly with trans and gender non conforming New Yorkers who have psychiatric disabilities. Many of the people we work with are currently incarcerated on Rikers Island. So today we were outraged to hear about the tragic death of Jerome Murdough who died in an overheated cell on Rikers Island without access to cool air.
As an organization we know prisons are one of our most significant predators and are never intended to be a place where we survive. The conversation that we want to be having outside the prison walls is one that challenges our notions of a justice system that relies on punishment and caging people.
What happened to Jerome Murdough was tragic and certainly preventable. The incarceration of poor people, people with disabilities, people of color, and trans and gender non conforming people in jails, detention centers and prisons leads to an alarmingly regular occurrence of tragedies such as Jerome Murdough’s death. For New Yorkers who are low income, have disabilities or are people of color as well as trans or gender non conforming the rates of violence within prisons, jails and detention centers is exponentially higher.
We are further outraged each time an abuse happens and the resulting media attention focuses on the character of the person incarcerated rather than that prisons and jails are inherently dangerous places to be especially for people with disabilities, who are people of color and/or low income and are trans and gender non conforming. Rikers Island and jails and prisons in general are institutions where incarcerated people have little legal recourse against what is happening to them. The answer isn’t better oversight, the answer is to abolish these systems that seek to control our lives and kill us.
While we aim to abolish the prison system SRLP works daily to reduce the abuse experienced by our community members while they are incarcerated. This includes our work around the Prison Rape Elimination Act, pressuring the City of New York to create less abusive conditions in jails like Rikers Island and pressuring the State of New York to improve conditions in prisons.
READ IT’S WAR IN HERE report about the experiences of people who are incarcerated and work in coalitions with our community members on the inside to ensure that human dignity and identity is respected.
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