A coalition of community activists urged Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council on Thursday to take the money derived from the planned closing of  Rikers Island and put it to work in improving such areas as affordable housing, mental health and school safety.

“Incarceration does not happen in a vacuum,” said  Ivelisse Gilestra, community organizer for College and Community Fellowship. “It is a reflection that is happening  to our communities and this is why this building community platform is extremely crucial and important,”

JustLeadershipUSA is a criminal justice reform group noted for its campaign Rikers Island, New York City’s most notorious prison complex.

More than $14 billion annually of the city budget has gone into law enforcement, including corrections and the New York City Police Department, according to  JuStLeadershipUSA member Mark Rosario.

“We need to reorganize the entire city and rethink the way we do  justice,” said Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin at the rally on the steps of City Hall.

The campaign to close the prison are attempted to build on their past victory that included the City Council voted 36-13  to close Rikers and shrink down the city’s jail capacity to 75%. Rikers is scheduled to shut down in 2026, closing one the largest jails in the world.

Photo by Elijah Hamilton