top of page


Below are two sections of related resources. The first provides more background about the Renewable Rikers project. The second shares information about prison abolition from people who are working toward a vision of decarceration. We’d like to invite you to think beyond the closing of Rikers to a world without environmental injustice or incarceration. Decarbonization and decarceration are connected; both stem from a need to replace extractive, racist, and profit-centered thinking with a humane, respectful, and life-giving approach to land and people.

Renewable Rikers Resources

Rebecca Bratspies | August 31, 2020

This presentation by Rebecca Bratspies at CUNY School of Law provides background on the history of Rikers Island, the connections between environmental injustice in NYC and incarceration at Rikers, the shifting legal landscape, and the restorative justice Renewable Rikers would provide.

The bare minimum to start addressing Rikers Island’s horrific legacy is to ensure, as the jails there are closed, that the island’s future uses benefit and respond to the wishes of the people and communities that have been harmed through its long, painful history. After hundreds of conversations with people who’ve been incarcerated on Rikers and had loved ones there, a consensus emerged: use the island for green infrastructure through the Renewable Rikers Plan.

Rebecca Bratspies | March 12, 2020

Enacting Renewable Rikers would be a moment for environmental justice. The proposed bills before the New York City Council would improve air quality for environmental justice communities, which are frequently the same communities most impacted by mass incarceration, and by incarceration at Rikers.

WE ACT for Environmental Justice | February 11, 2021

WE ACT for Environmental Justice has been working to advance the Renewable Rikers Act alongside New York City Councilmembers Costa Constantinides (District 22), Helen Rosenthal (District 6), and Ben Kallos (District 5) as well as the Freedom Agenda, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, and other organizations. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has already pledged to close the Rikers Island jail complex, the nation’s largest penal colony, by 2026.

Harvey Murphy & Fernando Ortiz | November 19, 2019

In the East River, between the Bronx and Queens, sits a 400-acre landmass known as Rikers Island. Since 1932, New Yorkers have been banished there when accused of a crime or a parole violation, or to serve short sentences. Tens of thousands of people cycle through Rikers each year, but until recently—when people and families who’d experienced the hell of Rikers began organizing to close it—it was almost invisible to the rest of New York City. So invisible that it wasn’t even labeled on the subway map.

In October 2019, the New York City Council passed, and Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law, land use plans to create four modern jail facilities and permanently close the jails on Rikers Island. The new facilities will be located closer to courts and communities. The Borough-Based Jails plan is scheduled to be complete by August 2027.

Rebecca Bratspies | 2022

Global (and domestic) patterns of energy extraction, generation, and consumption have placed inexcusable burdens on the same communities of color that are facing state-sanctioned violence. Calls for a just transition involved recognizing these interconnections, and intentionally planning with them in mind. This Article offers New York City’s Renewable Rikers project as an example of how this might be done, and how communities might combine decarbonization with decarceration in order to build a more just and sustainable society.  

Renewable Rikers Resources

Prison Abolition Resources

Includes multiple resources and action items including organizing assistance, guides for clemency and parole, defense campaign tool kits, and letter writing campaigns. Created by Survived and Punished, a grassroots prison abolition organization dedicated to freeing criminalized survivors of gender violence held in prisons in New York. 

Includes reports on closing Rikers, and community and city supports suggested to ensure an end to re-incarceration. Created by Freedom Agenda and their partners, a member-led project dedicated to organizing people and communities directly impacted by incarceration to achieve decarceration and system transformation. 

Toolkits, study guides, videos, and further resources on abolition and its intersectionality with justice-oriented issues like transgender rights. Created by Critical Resistance, a multi-chapter organization seeking to build an international movement to end the prison industrial complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. 

A growing webpage dedicated to the history of abolition and various organizations, movements, and communities working towards prison abolition. Includes multi-media study guides on prison abolition.  

Founded in 2010 by a group of women incarcerated in federal prison in Danbury, CT, the National Council is committed to abolishing the incarceration of women and girls through hyper-local organizing, public awareness education, movement lawyering, and the #FreeHer Campaign. 

The Center for Justice is committed to ending mass incarceration and criminalization, and advancing alternative approaches to justice and safety through education, research, and policy change.

Prison Abolition Resources
bottom of page