Judge Greg Lasak, a candidate for Queens District Attorney with nearly four decades working in the criminal justice system, has come out against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans to move prisoners from Rikers Island to a community jail in Kew Gardens.
Acknowledging the culture of violence at the notorious prison complex, Lasak disclosed he is in favor of closing the jail as it stands now, rebuilding it there, and overhauling the culture of corrections. Lasak cited deep community concerns over having a jail in the Kew Gardens neighborhood and the lack of a financial plan to make that happen.
“Throughout my career serving the people of Queens, I’ve seen firsthand the problems at Rikers Island, the violence, the decrepit conditions, the lack of attention to inmate healthcare. And that needs to change,” Lasak said. “We need to close Rikers as it currently stands, rebuild it there, and radically change the culture from top to bottom. The answer is not to spend countless billions of dollars building jails in out neighborhoods where they are unwanted by the community. The community needs to have a say and to truly be heard. We should be spending that money investing in education and our children’s futures instead. And we can’t wait 10 years to make changes.”
Fellow candidate Tiffany Cabán, who also opposes the Mayor’s plan to close Rikers, picked up an endorsement from the Working Families Party Tuesday.
“As a public defender, a queer Latina, and a progressive champion, Tiffany Cabán is the leader we need as Queens District Attorney,” WFP Executive Director Bill Lipton said. “For too long, the criminal justice system in our city has held people of color to one standard, and wealthy, white New Yorkers to another. Cabán has charted a new path during her campaign, pledging to use the District Attorney’s office to fight for racial, social and economic justice.”
Lipton vowed his team would “work tirelessly” on the campaign trail in support of their candidate.
“Powered by grassroots activists, community and labor organizations. The WFP is fighting for a system that works for all of us, and not just for the rich and privileged,” Cabán said. “I am proud to stand with the WFP and working families across New York.”
Meanwhile, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz joined leaders of the Jamaica Bangladesh Friends Society, the New American Voters Association, and the American Bangladeshi Business Business Alliance at an endorsement rally in Jamaica Sunday followed by the Global Diversity Rally in Richmond Hill.
“These events were an ideal reminder of how richly diverse and supportive our borough is. In a place where residents speak over 180 different languages and come from over 200 countries, we need leaders who support this diversity,” Katz said. “Throughout my time in public service representing Queens, I’ve learned what it takes to be an ally to the immigrant communities in our borough. As District Attorney, I will establish a separate hate crimes bureau, create an Immigrant Justice Unit to work across departments to ensure immigrants are treated fairly, and mandate immigrant-neutral pleas to avoid collateral consequences like deportation whenever possible. We need leaders who will work to build a strong and connected immigrant community, who will keep everyone safe from hate crimes and the threats coming out of Washington ever day.”
Other candidates in the race for Queens DA include Councilman Rory Lancman, former prosecutors Mina Malik and Jose Nieves and attorney Betty Lugo. The Democratic primary will be held June 25.