One of the Most Dangerous Prisons in America
Riker's Island is ranked as one of the ten worst correctional facilities in the United States. The jail complex is notorious for the abuse and neglect of prisoners, attracting increased media and judicial scrutiny resulting in numerous rulings against the New York City government with tax payers like you footing the bill. Conversely, Riker's Island is also infamous for brutal assaults by inmates on staff (uniformed and civilian) often times resulting in serious injuries making Riker's Island one of the most dangerous places to work. In 2015 there were 9,424 assaults which was the highest number in 5 years.
The jail complex, operated by the New York City Department of Correction, has a budget of $860 million a year, a staff of 9,000 officers and 1,500 civilians managing 100,000 admissions per year and an average daily population of 10,000 inmates. Over half of the inmate population is black, a third are hispanic, and only 10% are white with less than 1% being Asain.
Arrests for citizens possessing small amounts of marijuana exceeds those for all violent crimes despite the fact that social attitudes have changed as the number of cities and states legalize its use or decriminalize small quantities.
It's completely insane that tax payers are being forced to pay nearly $168,000 per year for a person serving time at Riker's Island for a nonviolent drug possession which is actually legal in many other parts of the country. That's nearly what it costs to attend an ivy league college for four years! Now let's put these staggering figures into perspective, more than half of the $860 million a year budget is spent on incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders (over $420 million a year of tax payer money squandered on a broken system).
The physical and sexual abuse people living on Riker's Island endure while incarcerated has serious and a long-lasting impact upon their life even after their release. Combined with the stigma of being a convicted felon, these overwhelming odds make it nearly impossible for many of them to find gainful employment and all too often find themselves back in prison due to a lack of options to earn an honest living.
Decriminalize Drugs and Treat Drug Addiction as a Healthcare Issue
To resolve this crisis, I am committed to the decriminalization of drugs and to treat drug addiction as a healthcare issue. This is not to say that I will am soft on crime. On the contrary, I believe that to be genuinely hard on crime we need to be actively involved in proper rehabilitation of prisoners for reentry into society. Locking people away in a violent and abusive environment only encourages further criminal activity which is truly being soft on crime because it's not solving the problem and in fact only makes it worse.
By decriminalizing drug use and treating drug abuse as a healthcare issue we will not only save nearly a half a billion dollars every year of tax payer dollars on unnecessary imprisonment we will finally have an opportunity to provide meaningful help to those suffering from the disease known as addiction.
As a result of decriminalization, each person serving time for a nonviolent drug offense will be released from prison with continued access to the NYC Time Bank Entrepreneur Program at Riker's Island to find housing, work, healthcare and develop job skills and receive the tools needed to start their own business. Their nonviolent crime will be wiped clean from their record although any prior non-drug related convictions will remain on their record. This act of mercy will eliminate any potential employer prejudice against ex-cons to help ensure each nonviolent releasee acquires gainful employment. Full self-sufficiency and staying out of prison in the future must become a top priority.
This strategic release program will solve overcrowding issues virtually overnight. The empty building space will be converted into addiction treatment centers where New Yorkers can seek treatment whether it is court mandated or on a voluntary basis. Guests of the facility will have the option to check themselves in and out of the treatment center with access to counseling, psychotherapy, and medication at near wholesale prices as a part of an NYC Universal Direct Patient Care Program.
Legalize Marijuana and Hemp
Taxes generated from marijuana sales in states where it is currently legal is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars in markets much smaller than New York City. By legalizing and taxing marijuana for sale and personal use we will easily generate billions of dollars in additional revenue to help construct the Popup Rescue Shelters and Ivy League University and Learning Hospital and mobile clinics across the five boroughs. The tax is referred to as the NYC 420 TAX which will be allocated to education and ending homelessness.
In practical use, “hemp” is the term used to describe the food and fiber variety of the cannabis plant and contains less than a third of a percent of the chemical THC making it virtually impossible to get high or stoned from its consumption. Hemp is grown as a renewable source for raw materials that are incorporated into thousands of products. Its seeds and flowers are used in health foods, organic body care, and other nutraceuticals. Hemp fibers and stalks are used in clothing, construction materials, paper, biofuel, plastic composites, batteries, and more.
Many people confuse hemp with marijuana which is a completely different cannabis plant that contains a chemical called THC that makes you feel high or stoned. Hemp will not make you feel stoned.
To ensure that New Yorkers benefit from legalizing cannabis shops, cafes, delivery services, edible bakeries, and 420 grow farms there will be a provision set into place that requires corporations (and their parent company) with more than $1 million in sales applying for an NYC420 License to allocate 51% share of ownership in said company to a resident of New York City of one year or longer who has a total annual household income of less than $150k. New York City residents with a total household income greater than $150k per year can also apply for an NYC420 License but must maintain a 75% share of their company and upon sale of controlling shares to another New York City resident making less than $250k. New York City residents of one year or longer with a total household income larger than $250k are prohibited from partnering with large corporations (and their parent companies) with more than $1M in sales per year.
NYC420 License holders are required to use a local New York City credit union for their corporate accounts. These provisions are put into place to make sure investment and revenue stays in New York City and isn't siphoned into bank accounts outside New York City or into offshore tax havens.
Salary Increase for NYC Correctional Officers at Riker's Island
Correctional officers working at Riker's Island make on average $49,136 a year for one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. I suggest we increase their pay by 15% equalling an average of $7,370 of additional income bringing their annual salary up to $56,506. In addition to the raise, they will only be required to work four days each week (32 hours) with a three day weekend. The correctional officers can use their day off to spend with their families, relax, get a second job, start a business, or volunteer to help run or signup for one of the many entrepreneur programs offered by the NYC Time Bank that will be made available to both inmates and correctional officers hoping to start a new business of their own.
NYC Time Bank will host an arsenal of entrepreneur programs strategically designed to mentor inmates and correctional officers seeking to enter special events, urban farming, construction management, business management, coding, computer repair, the culinary arts, restaurant management, the arts, weight training certification, spa services, and service dog training and grooming just to name a few.
I would like United States Veterans to be allowed to enter the entrepreneur programs at Riker's Island to help mentor the would-be entrepreneurs living at Riker's Island wanting to learn how to become self-sufficient after they leave prison. Pairing the veterans with correctional officers and inmates is the powerful trifecta we need to quickly turn Riker's Island into a place of healing, rehabilitation, and entrepreneurship.
Riker's Rehab for the People—A Detoxicating Experience
Freeing up space in the prison by decriminalizing drugs and creating job developing and affordable housing and business ownership opportunities for former inmates make it possible to create a volunteer treatment center for people who have no place else to go who need alcohol and drug counseling including an overnight break from life when they need it. Former inmates are also encouraged to use the program if they feel like they need a moment to recalibrate here and there without fear of being imprisoned again. The program is designed to help people who don't have the money for rehab but need treatment while they still go to work in the city or need some time away entirely.
This Entrepreneur Program will provide vocational training for detox therapies and spa services while assisting the professionals running the program. Inmates make NYC Time Dollars and money while participating in this entrepreneur program. After being released, the now free citizen can take any tests for certification or licensing that is required that they'll need to work in that field. After decriminalization of drugs former convicts will not be required to divulge that criminal record on job and lease applications but all other criminal offenses must be reported by law.
Riker's Island Live Concert and PBS Fundraiser
Every month the inmates at Riker's Island will host a concert including local New York City performing artists including a celebrity comedian and super star musician. The concert will also showcase local talent comprised of inmates and correctional officers who will sing, dance, and make people laugh right alongside our celebrity guests. The concert will be broadcast live on PBS or on local public access cable tv networks within the five boroughs as a fundraiser to generate massive revenue for these national treasures currently being defunded by the federal government.
The inmates will have a vote on the comedian hosts and musical performers the inmates want to see most. It's my intention to give the inmates more say in the treatment, conditions, and programs offered at Riker's Island to help boost moral and get them involved in the voting process before reentering society.
The inmates and correctional officers helping to construct the stage, operate lighting, sound, and video equipment will learn invaluable skills that pay upwards to $20-$25 per hour for production assisting and more for managers, directors, designers, and PR. Film and video industry electricians and lighting workers earn an annual mean wage of $71,380 which is over $20,000 per year more than what the average correctional officer currently earns working at Riker's Island.
Inmates working alongside correctional officers will help to foster empathy, a spirit of collaboration, and an excitement for these special events and potential future careers in production and/or the arts. The inmates and correctional officers will receive NYC Time Dollars for their participation in this entrepreneur program that can be used at he Riker's Island commissary, given to family and friends, donate to nonprofits, or used to invest in starting a new business to prepare a life for themselves after release. The prisoner will not be allowed to keep any of the income generated from their new business while they are still a prisoner. Any income generated while they are still a prisoner can be donated to the NYC Time Bank Entrepreneur Programs and once they are released into society, they will be able to keep new income generated by their business.
Dog Rescue and Service Dog Training Center
I propose we establish a no kill shelter policy banning the euthanization of dogs, cats, rabbits, and exotic birds in New York City. Riker's will serve as a home for unwanted pets where the NYC Time Bank will teach valuable job skills to inmates wanting to learn how to train service animals for U.S. Veterans suffering from PTSD and other traumas. Some of these service dogs will be made available for sale to the general public to generate additional revenue to provide food, shelter, and medical service for rescued pets at Riker's Island. Rescue pets unable to enter the service animal training program will be made available for adoption to the public or will live out the remainder of their days on Riker's providing companionship for the inmates living at the prison who can adopt their favorite pet to bring with them after release. The program will provide food and medical service for the pet until the now free citizen is able to become self-sufficient.
United States Veterans not living on Riker's Island are encouraged to join the program to develop the skills needed to launch a career in service dog training. At an asking price of upwards to $30,000 for a trained service dog this career can become quite lucrative as well as a valuable service to the community.
As part of the NYC Time Bank Entrepreneur Program the inmates will help to construct a series of vertical farms producing organic food used to feed the inmates with some of the produce being made available at Farmer's Markets across the five boroughs to promote the program and generate additional revenue.
These vertical farms will be used to grow fast-growing raw building materials such as bamboo and hemp used to manufacture affordable housing for the lower and middle class as well as disaster relief housing for evacuees and refugees. Other vertical farms will include organic produce needed to feed the massive prison population.
The inmates and correctional officers will receive NY Time Dollars for their participation in this entrepreneur program that can be used at Riker's Island commissary, given to family and friends, donated to nonprofits, or used to start a new business once they are on the outside.
Riker's Island VR Designer Chicken Coup Showhouse
Part of the NYC Time Bank Entrepreneur Programs includes a luxury chicken farm with separate little thrones with upcycled designer sconces and chandelier lighting, beautiful wood plank flooring. On the walls are gorgeous wallpapers and wall coverings including artwork from well-known artists curate by the local museums and galleries. Also showcase some of the inmates and correctional officer's work from the artist entrepreneur program.
Each mini-chicken coup high-rise will be designed by a different well-known New York City designer. Each chicken coup is rigged with a VR (virtual reality) camera so people around he world can pay $20/yr to check out the chicken coup 24 hours a day. Little drone chickens rigged with VR cameras can also be operated for a $50/yr fee but also includes an augmented gaming system where you can find upcycled prizes available through the Upcycled Gallery including a sponsored vacation packages, a new electric car, a new home in New Amsterdam. As a player you can explore the inside of the chicken coup and all it's rooms and see the chickens sitting on their little thrones and whatnot or you can raise control your VR drone chicken to run around in the free range area exploring the grounds for more prizes and points.
The money generated from the VR Designer Chicken Coup Showhouse and gaming app will go towards building more vertical farms for the NYC Smart Schools which supports the NYC Smart School Culinary Arts Entrepreneur Program and the Small Group Communication lunches as well as more vertical farms for Riker's Island.
The chicken poop will be collected for fuel to help run the facility.
Future For-Profit Prisons from New York City
For-profit enterprise has no place in the incarceration of our fellow citizens. I propose a ban on all future for-profit prisons and the slave labor conditions of inmates being forced to work for pennies on the dollar directly benefiting for-profit corporations. Work programs will still be allowed under this ban although nonprofits will only have access to such labor who will receive half U.S. dollars and half NYC Time Bank Dollars for their service.
Spread the Word!
If you or someone you care about is currently serving a sentence at Riker's Island please help spread the word about these prison reforms.
Perhaps you or someone you care about will benefit directly from an early release or from the NYC Time Bank Entrepreneur Program where you will be given the tools required to become self-sufficient upon reentering society.
I want you to know that you're valued and you're not forgotten.
If you are currently serving time at Riker's Island, please use your phone privileges to tell your friends and family to register and to vote BOWSER FOR MAYOR this November 7th, 2017. Their votes could save your life and give you opportunities you never thought were possible.
It's important to note that as mayor I wouldn't have direct authority to make these changes but these are the programs and policies I am going to be actively lobbying towards. There is already a strong push towards reform. I'm offering a plan that will radically change the way we view incarceration and drug addiction in this country forever. We have all the resources we need to pull this off when we work together. So share with everyone you know. Let's make this happen!