Another Justice Billboard 2022
"We Are Here" billboard in Gowanus, Brooklyn
Come see our Billboard located on Hamilton Place, 5 feet north of 13th Street
Brooklyn, NY. It's right by the Gowanus Expressway now through the first week of June!
Who is we? Where is here? Who is at Rikers? Am I we? We are mothers, fathers, daughters and sons. We are artists, thinkers and dreamers. We are teachers, writers and scientists. We are human. We are us and we are here. And here is Rikers Island, a complex of 10 decaying buildings that hold 10,000 cages. And us. All of us are here. We are in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx. We are home. We have families. We are old and young. We are possibilities. We are love. We are all at Rikers Island until we #CLOSErikers.
For decades, New Yorkers have called for the closing of Rikers Island, a notoriously decrepit and chaotic jail complex. Those pleas were amplified in the wake of the tragic death of Kalief Browder, an adolescent who was held at Rikers without a trial for three years for allegedly stealing a backpack. He spent much of that time in solitary confinement. Broken by his experience, Browder killed himself after returning to his parents’ home a short time later.
In April 2016, JustLeadershipUSA and the Katal Center launched the #CLOSErikers campaign, centering the leadership of people directly harmed by Rikers to demand shuttering of this grim carceral complex. A year later, Mayor Bill de Blasio finally agreed. In 2019, the NYC Council passed legislation to fully close Rikers by 2027 and replace it with four borough-based jails, at a total cost of $8.7 billion.
Progress toward shuttering Rikers has been slow, despite conditions worsening inside. As a candidate, Eric Adams stated his commitment to closing the facility, but as mayor, he has yet to make progress towards the plan. And rather than getting behind proven approaches that keep communities safe without relying on incarceration, Adams seems willing to lock more people in cages.
Data from #CLOSErikers
1. Although Black and Latinx people constitute about half of NYC’s population, they represent almost 90% of jail admissions.
2. Most people on Rikers Island are awaiting trial – an often protracted process. Because they can’t afford money bail, they can remain incarcerated for years, until their case is heard.
3. 2021 was one of the deadliest years on record at Rikers: 16 men died while in custody.
4. For fiscal year 2021, the Department of Correction budget was $1.25 billion. The cost of one person’s incarceration on Rikers Island is $556,539 per year ($1,525 each day). Imagine if that money was used to make us all safer, by investing in housing, health care, education, and jobs.
In comparison, the average cost of one person’s incarceration in New York’s prisons is $167,731 per year. That’s almost as much as it costs for four years of Ivy League university tuition.
5. Community groups and advocates across NYC are working to close Rikers once and for all. Together, we can take action to shutter this harmful institution.
Women and gender-expansive people are housed at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island. Over 85% of the incarcerated women have experienced sexual violence and close to 75% have a mental health diagnosis. Because their needs have not always been centered in larger advocacy efforts, the #BeyondRosie’s campaign was started in 2018. Their aim is to secure a stand-alone and service-enriched facility in Manhattan for those who identify as women who are currently being held at Rikers. Such a facility would provide more trauma-informed treatment and care.
Data about #BeyondRosie’s
1. Under the borough-based jail plan, women and gender-expansive people would be relocated to a new Kew Gardens, Queens facility. Advocates argue that a location in Manhattan would provide better access for family visits and that creation of a woman-only space is necessary.
2. Women are scheduled to be among the last groups to leave Rikers in 2027.
3. Co-locating women in the Kew Gardens jail threatens to retraumatize domestic violence survivors, and potentially expose women to their own abusers.
4. Advocates are calling for a reduction in the women’s jail population to under 100. Many of the women cannot afford bail and are awaiting adjudication of their cases under difficult conditions.
5. The Manhattan based facility, envisioned as The Women's Center for Justice, could break the traditional model of jail that we know doesn't work, and provide culturally competent, trauma-informed care that puts women and families on a path to a healthy, safe, and productive life.
More Information & Take Action
The Independent Commission on New York Incarceration and Sentencing Reform, also known as the Lippman Commission. https://www.morejustnyc.org/.
New York Times articles: Eric Adams Says He Wants to Close Rikers. It May Not Be That Simple. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/17/nyregion/eric-adams-rikers-island.ht….
NYT series on Rikers. https://www.nytimes.com/topic/organization/rikers-island-prison-complex
Katal Center fact sheet: https://katalcenter.org/cutshutinvestny/
Tell Mayor Adams: Close Rikers! Use this online tool to send a letter to Mayor Eric Adams https://katal.info/CloseRikers
Sign this petition: Tell elected officials across New York City it's time to close Rikers Island Jail complex. https://secure.everyaction.com/LNakbTTRO0ODa-roE0Ow2w2
Women’s Community Justice Association: https://www.womenscja.org/beyondrosies_campaign
Sign our Letter to the Governor & Mayor here.
Check out the following articles and videos of Cat in conversation with other artists and members of the For Freedoms team.
Filmmaking is the cornerstone of Aubin’s work. We make films aimed at narrative transformation, media literacy, and community building and organizing. Learn more about our films here.
Following the world premiere of Aggie at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2020, we published our Aggie Discussion & Resource Guide, a book that guides dialogue about radical philanthropy, criminal justice reform, women's leadership, art education, and activism. We worked with Georgetown University art history professor Andrea Huezo to design the Art History & Social Justice Curriculum, launched a series of free public panels that featured artist, activists, and community leaders, and created Words of Art, an Aggie-inspired multi-player card game published by Penguin Random House.
What's On Your Plate? played in every U.S. state and rallied hundreds of educators and students around food justice in schools. For our Dispatches from Cleveland campaign, we collaborated with Shooting w/o Bullets to create the first Cleveland VOTES Get-Out-the-Vote and voter turnout in Cuyahoga County in Ohio rose from 23 percent in 2016 to 53 percent in 2017. Chavela was nominated for the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Documentary award and screened internationally at 40 film festivals, 39 universities, and 47 queer Latinx community events in 29 countries, the majority held in Spanish.
In our view, films don't live on celluloid but rather with people. The Impact program extends the life of our films into our communities. We partner with leading social justice organizations and leaders to wield the power of documentary film to bring communities together for critical dialogue, around today's most urgent social justice issues and drive meaningful change.
Our current campaign to end mass incarceration by funding movement leaders and artists: Aggie Impact Campaign.
Interested in partnering with Aubin? Contact email@example.com.
From the beginning, Aubin Pictures has extended the umbrella of our 501c3 status to allow other filmmakers without nonprofit status to apply for and receive grants through fiscal sponsorship. Aubin selects projects that align with our mission and fall within our project guidelines to explore or promote cultural and social awareness and strategic and sustainable social transformation. In exchange for this service, we take a modest percentage of the incoming funds. Please consider supporting a Aubin Pictures fiscally sponsored project. See our fiscally sponsored projects here.
Internship & Mentorship
Aubin believes that when new filmmakers receive mentoring early in their careers, it goes a long way in creating a future generation of filmmakers who help cultivate fresh media perspectives. The vision for Aubin’s internship and mentorship program is to reach people who may not think a film internship is for them because of income, network, or gender. Interns work on specific projects related to Aubin’s films and administration, participate in all staff meetings and events, support film shoots, network with filmmakers and social justice professionals in Aubin’s network, and give feedback at film screenings, among other areas of our filmmaking and operations. Aubin’s commitment to full fair pay reflects our mission to drive social transformation. We’re always looking to bring in new people. Interested in joining the program? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
JustMedia is an open access lens-based archive designed to support advocacy efforts for systemic change through the art of storytelling. Created and incubated at Aubin Pictures, JustMedia will democratize access to media about criminal justice to challenge the veil of secrecy around the prison system; melt the walls between individuals, families, and communities inside and outside of prisons; and create a central and critical place for witnessing and healing where there is no longer a false wall between artists and activists. The development of JustMedia has relied on documentary filmmaker and Aubin Pictures founder Catherine Gund’s use of film and media in AIDS activism in the 1980s and 1990s, which was, in turn, influenced and informed by the newsreels of the civil rights movement. Interested in learning more? Get in touch at email@example.com.