Standing For the Future – Osborne Association
Last week, President Biden met with Mayor Adams to discuss the increased risk of violence made worse by illegal, out-of-state guns. The new mayor has been quick to talk about harsh consequences, but he and President Biden wisely also spoke about the need for community programming that could address the determinants of health that drive the City’s public health inequities and contribute to hopelessness and violence.
Our colleague K. Bain, founder and executive director of Community Capacity Development, discusses the intersection of inequity and violence, and the urgent need for healing justice with President Joe Biden. Click the image above to watch a short clip.
I am reminded of a young man I met years ago who shared that when he was twelve years old, he began to practice spitting razor blades out of his mouth because he thought that would be useful when he landed on Rikers Island. Not IF he went to Rikers, but when. We know, and we have seen, how each of us lives our life consistent with the future we see for ourselves. But when we can’t even see a future for ourselves or the people around us, no threats of heightened “consequences” have a meaningful effect on our choices or behaviors. To the degree that the City’s plan ignores the reality – that people don’t avoid crime or violence because they fear prison – it will fail. If it centers the reality that people avoid violence because of a concern for others and a belief in their future prospects – it can succeed.
Lead Mentor T Haywood speaks with a participant during an Osborne youth mentoring workshop.
Osborne’s intersecting policy and practice work is a stand for the future. In the Bronx, we have partnered with the office of Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark to create the Bronx Osborne Gun Accountability and Prevention program (BOGAP) that offers young people who are charged with carrying guns to protect themselves or at the behest of others an alternative to prison. The program builds on our experience pairing trauma services, cognitive behavioral therapy, and Credible Messenger mentoring to address the real risk of being a young person in the Bronx. BOGAP offers new modes of thinking, opportunities for accountability, and offers access to training leading to career path and living-wage employment and supportive services that are the building blocks for a believable future free of violence, gangs, and crews.
Because we know that reliance on violence-prone systems of policing and jailing contribute to people resolving conflicts violently, our policy center is working across systems to prevent the seeds of despair from taking root and to overcome them when they do. Our City policy priorities include:
• Working with the City to fully implement the Child-Sensitive Arrest Law that the City Council passed in September 2019. The law requires NYPD to develop written guidance and provide training for police officers to safeguard children during a parent’s arrest and partner with community organizations to provide support to children and families after an arrest.
• Serving as Steering Committee members of the CARE Task Force to work with the City to address the needs of older people returning from jails and prisons to NYC, many of whom go straight into the shelter system.
• Fully implementing bail reform and using all options for safe pre-trial release.
• Ending solitary confinement in New York City and replacing it with alternative forms of separation proven to better enhance safety, health, and well-being.
• Closing Rikers and investing in communities and community-based programming.
The President was right to come to NYC to discuss solutions to address violence with the Mayor and Governor. We call on them to view this challenge through a public health lens and offer tangible solutions to address the root causes of violence to create a safer and more equitable New York.
You can read and download OCJAG’s 2022 policy priorities document here.
Join us in our work to build a justice system that promotes healing, safety, accountability, and real opportunities to thrive.
Elizabeth Gaynes, President & CEO