Mercy & Justice Round-Up: September Edition

September 25, 2018
sept m & j

What can you actually eat if you rely on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits in NYC? Will closing Rikers Island jail complex make New York a more just city? What are the differences in opportunities and challenges for the five distinct versions of New York? You’ll find articles, studies, and resources that speak to these questions and more in this month’s Mercy & Justice Round-Up.

As always, this is a collection of content that got us thinking lately and includes a range of perspectives—some we agree with, others we might not. We hope you’ll read, listen, learn and love better with us.

  • Amid plans to close the Rikers Island jail complex in favor of a smaller, neighborhood jails, prison reform advocates caution that problems will persist if the city neglects to invest in communities disproportionately affected by incarceration. Many propose restorative justice as an alternative to jails and policing—in an effort to drive down the need for incarceration in the first place.
  • What can you eat using SNAP benefits, which add up to $1.86 per person, per meal? “How the Other Half Eats” illustrates what it’s like to rely on SNAP in NYC, where the average low-income meal costs $3.96. Find out what you could buy at the 145th Street Foodtown in Harlem with SNAP—and learn about additional barriers many families face to being able to prepare healthy meals.
  • "Life after prison is like a second sentence,” the author of a Christianity Today article on caring for our formerly incarcerated neighbors writes. “Returning citizens face parole conditions, hefty court fines, and the stinging societal labels they have been given." The church, says the author, has a critical role to play in being a place that men and women reentering society can turn to for support and resources.
  • “Across the city, neighborhoods with the most turnstile arrests per subway card swipe tend to be predominantly black or Hispanic.” An analysis of the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services data on turnstile arrests by The Marshall Project suggests a persistent “race problem” in subway policing. Take New York’s 40th precinct in the South Bronx, for example. It has one of the highest arrest rates per swipe, and almost every local resident is black or Hispanic.
  • Measure of America, a project of the Social Research Council, released A Portrait of New York City 2018, a robust analysis of the well-being and opportunity access of New Yorkers, broken down by demographics and neighborhoods. It’s worth digging into the entire report, but particularly interesting is the analysis of The Five New Yorks—which have distinct opportunities and challenges, despite geographical proximity.