Adams’ Budget Proposal Prioritizes Incarceration Over Safety, Immigrants, and Community Care

Deep cuts in the proposed FY 2025 budget and Mayor Adams’ inflammatory rhetoric will fail to make New York City safer or stronger, advocates at the Vera Institute of Justice say

January 17, 2024
Media Contact: Trip Eggert, and Zameena Mejia

New York – On Tuesday, January 16, Mayor Eric Adams released his preliminary budget for the 2025 Fiscal Year. The budget maintains astronomical levels of funding for law enforcement and corrections while slashing resources for the Department of Homeless Services, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department of Social Services, and other agencies that promote community-based safety and provide support for immigrants. Vera Institute of Justice directors Jullian Harris-Calvin and Shayna Kessler issued the following statements in response to the mayor’s preliminary budget.

Jullian Harris-Calvin, director of Vera’s Greater Justice New York initiative, said:

“This preliminary budget shows the Adams administration’s harmful reliance on law enforcement and incarceration, which tear communities apart, rather than investing in community-based solutions that proactively deliver safety. Despite New York City’s legal mandate to close Rikers Island by 2027 and transition to a smaller and more humane borough-based jail system, the preliminary budget continues to allocate excessive funds to a bloated, failing corrections apparatus. Investing instead in preventative services, such as supportive housing, mental health treatment, and alternatives to incarceration, will help lower the jail population in preparation for Rikers’ closure while enhancing community safety and enabling all New Yorkers to flourish.”

Shayna Kessler, associate director of advocacy for the Vera Institute of Justice’s Advancing Universal Representation initiative, said:

“Immigrants are and always have been a central part of New York City’s communities, culture, and economy. The city must meet the needs of immigrant New Yorkers, including both newcomers and longtime residents. In conjunction with state and federal support, city leaders must act swiftly to help immigrants gain employment, support their families, and contribute to their communities. Mayor Adams’s ongoing attempts to scapegoat newly arrived immigrants to justify harmful budget cuts to critical services for all New Yorkers does a disservice to the city as a whole. To promote a safe and vibrant New York for all, it is essential for the Adams administration and all levels of government to advance policy solutions and fund services that help New Yorkers in need. This includes increasing access to work authorization, building sustainable legal services infrastructure through investments in immigration legal services and by passing both the state Access to Representation Act and the federal Fairness to Freedom Act, and increasing support for other services that will promote our overall stability and prosperity.”


About the Vera Institute of Justice: The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit

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