8 W 126th St, New York, NY 10027 sharon@wcja.org

#BEYONDrosies


The Rose M. Singer Center, nicknamed Rosie’s, is the women’s jail on Rikers Island.

The  #BEYONDrosies campaign is aimed at closing Rosie’s and ensuring that incarcerated women and gender expansive people receive the comprehensive, trauma-informed and empowering services that they deserve to heal and have a successful reentry.

The goal of #BEYONDrosies is to:

IMAGINE justice, dignity & safety for women
INVENT a smaller justice system for women
INVEST savings to strengthen communities

Our Demands:

1. The permanent closure of the Rose M. Singer jail on Rikers Island.
2. The safe release of as many women and gender expansive people as possible back to their communities through alternatives to incarceration and supervised release. 
3. A permanent, New York City-based facility that is accessible and humane for the small number of women and gender expansive people who remain in the jail. 

Visit our HERSTORIES page to hear how the (in)justice system has affected several women’s lives through their personal stories.

The Plan:

On October 13th, 2021, after years of #BEYONDrosies asking “What about the women?” Governor Kathy Hochul announced that nearly all women and trans individuals would be transferred from the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers to state prisons in Bedford and Taconic. 

While this is far from a perfect solution, it was the first real, tangible action anyone in power had taken to respond to our demands. #BEYONDrosies will use this as an initial step on the road towards the goals we’ve had from the beginning. This is a moment of opportunity to make women the first group that is permanently moved off of the hellhole that is Rikers Island. If successful, this could be a model for our brothers who are currently there.

Going forward we are advocating for:

  • Reducing the female and gender expansive population to under 100. District attorneys, judges, and the mayor can step up and do more to release women BEFORE they go to Westchester. That means reviewing bail amounts, charging decisions and opportunities for diversion for all cases. Our service providers have their doors open and are ready to offer community-based programs that heal and rehabilitate. 
  • Keeping promises on conditions at Taconic & Bedford. WCJA will be monitoring conditions at Bedford and Taconic to hold officials accountable for their commitments, including the continuation of programs, family visitation and access to service providers and attorneys. 
  • Establishing a permanent downstate women’s center. The move to Westchester must be temporary, and no one should ever return to Rosie’s. Governor Hochul can start the process by transferring a state-owned facility in the five boroughs to the city or a non-profit to operate as a women’s center for the smaller remaining population. It can be a place that reimagines the justice system by focusing on rehabilitation, community, and dignity. 

ONE PATH FORWARD: Reduce population under 100 women through DECARCERATION
Key recommendations for the decarceration of women, LGBTQI+ and gender non-conforming New Yorkers:

  • Close the Rose M. Singer Center by the end of 2022, not in 2027 as planned.
  • Community reinvestments: expand critical community-based services and resources.
  • Emergency expansion of all ATD and ATI efforts and programs. Promote and expand decarceration by increasing funding for pre-arrest diversion programs, behavioral health treatment, and alternative to detention/incarceration programming.
  • Urge Judges to use non monetary conditions rather than bail, such as supervised release programs.
  • End the practice of “city year” sentences of one year or less and replace with cost-effective alternatives to incarceration and community service. Release all people under city sentences, allow them to go home or to hotels, such as those that were set up earlier in the pandemic.
  • Divert pregnant women to a specialized ATI/ATD program in the community. Release all pregnant women to appropriative programming such as WCJP.
  • Affordable housing development: all people should have access to sustainable and affordable housing.
  • Release all people under technical parole violations.
  • Expand Supervised Release efforts with hotel housing for those who need temporary housing—ask programs to use or to partner with a Harm Reduction Safe Haven model that has proven success records.
  • Set up a Special Women’s Court at/for RMSC to reduce the backlog of cases that cause delays in court appearances and keeps the census high—using ATD, ATI and Supervised Release if necessary.
  • Expand the utilization of treatment programs (Greenhope, Samaritan Village, others).
  • Reach out to Street Outreach programs to develop capacity for women who may be open to emergency housing or who need medical care.
  • Institute recommendations outlined in “A New Path to Justice: Getting Women Off Rikers Island” that could prevent and reduce the number of women entering the system.
  • Use Edgecombe, other state-run facilities, and vacant spaces for programming.
  • Expand and invest in emergency bail initiatives such as the Envision Freedom Fund.
  • Implement and enact the Domestic Violence Survivor’s Justice Act (DVSJA) law at every level of the criminal legal system. All officers, attorneys, and judges should be trained in the law and practice trauma-informed & responsive care.

Resources needed to support decarceration:

  • Increase city funding to expand all diversion programs
  • Increase city funding for community-based health and behavioral health services and other critical services that support women and children
  • Improve access to Medicaid, SNAP, cash assistance and other benefits that make consistent connections to supportive services and treatment possible
  • Create permanent housing units & subsidies for women, women with children, and LGBTQI+ people to increase their safety and stability in the community.

When a woman is incarcerated her whole community feels the impact from her children to her employer. Simply put, people do better and are more stable in their life when they have housing and their needs met. If a woman must be detained, it should be in a trauma informed, trauma responsive, gender specific facility that seeks to heal and support instead of harm and punish.

Key recommendations to close Rosie’s (RMSC) and develop a trauma-responsive women’s facility:

  • Commit to one women-only, Manhattan-based facility that is accessible and humane for the small number of women and gender expansive people who remain in jail.
  • The facility must offer trauma informed care and gender specific services for women and gender expansive people.

Facility Plant:

  • Create small unit consisting of 6-8 private rooms with private bathrooms
  • Each unit includes a kitchen, dining area, laundry, living and study space with space for overnight stays with their children and family
  • Adequate space for counseling groups, educational and vocational programming, family meetings and spiritual guidance

Intake Center (which will be clean, welcoming, properly equipped and sensitively designed for women & girls with histories of physical/sexual abuse):

  • Limit the number of women confined to communal cells simultaneously
  • Bathrooms are outside of communal cells in a private & dignified space
  • Sufficient space allocated to health services to ensure timely attention and care
  • Clinic spaces are separate, private, clean & welcoming.

Healthcare & Maternity:

  • Create a women’s health, wellness clinic on-site
  • Ensure clinic spaces are separate, private, clean & welcoming
  • Allocate sufficient space for health services to ensure timely attention and care

Service Model:

  • Service Design: Trauma Informed & Evidenced Based Care
  • Operations: Use an RFP Process, convene an oversight committee led by women with lived experience to assist in selecting & monitoring a qualified community & social services provider
  • Operational Collaboration Between Non-profit Service Provider Experts, Dept. of Mental Health & DOCS
    • Operational Management: Non-profit operated by experienced organizations in conjunction with Dept. of Mental Health, and DOCS
    • Staffing: All nonprofit and DOC staff trained to provide in trauma informed care and gender responsive services; stable and choose to work in the facility

Our campaign is guided by our insistence that the fight to expose and confront criminal “injustice” system inequities for women, transgender and gender expansive individuals must be led by those with lived experience; they must be the decision makers, the organizers and advocates and hold others accountable at every level. We are guided by the ethos that those closest to the problem are closest to the solutions!


For more information, contact:

Rita Zimmer, President, at rita@housingplusnyc.org or 646-790-3160
Sharon White-Harrigan, Executive Director, at sharon@wcja.org or 646.546.8591
Jordyn Rosenthal, Senior Data & Policy Analyst, at jordyn@wcja.org