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Press Release

Community groups push for ‘Justice Budget;’ call for affordable housing, economic justice, and defunding prisons and police



If Rhode Island’s elected leaders are serious about racial justice and protecting all of the state’s residents from this pandemic and its consequences, they must commit to a Justice Budget.

From a press release:

Today, a coalition of community groups released a Justice Budget platform advocating for dramatic changes to the 2021 FY Rhode Island budget. The budget platform includes policy prescriptions on housing, economic justice, and criminal justice that address the systemic inequalities exposed by the COVID crisis, as well as the national uprising against police violence. 

The proposal includes building new affordable housing, raising taxes on the highest earners, and cuts to prisons and policing such as closing the High Security facility at the ACI and canceling the new State Police barracks construction.

“If Rhode Island’s elected leaders are serious about racial justice and protecting all of the state’s residents from this pandemic and its consequences, they must commit to a Justice Budget,” said Christopher Samih-Rotondo of Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE). “A just state budget must include: adequate funding for low-income housing, especially for those without a place to call home and those returning from incarceration, tax equity and an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, the monthly benefit and clothing allowance for RI Works participants, and commitments to reinvesting funds from policing and prisons into programs and infrastructure that stabilize low-income communities of color and decrease prison populations.” 

Community groups released the first-of-its-kind Justice Budget on Friday, July 17th with nine groups signing on from across the state. “The people of the Ocean State deserve a budget that ensures everyone who resides here has what they need to thrive,” said Katie West, Manager of Homes RI, Housing Network of Rhode Island. “Along with economic supports and community-driven alternatives to incarceration, investing in quality, long-term affordable homes and programs to eliminate housing insecurity is critical to achieving shared prosperity for all Rhode Islanders.”

The group expressed its hope that state legislators adopt the Justice Budget as state budget negotiations continue throughout the summer, and as Rhode Island legislators await news of an additional federal stimulus package. 

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“Budgets are moral documents, and we’re calling on all Rhode Island lawmakers to pass a budget that works for us all, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” said Rhode Island Working Families Party State Director Georgia Hollister Isman. “We can have a budget that cuts unnecessary funds from police and prisons, that makes the richest Rhode Islanders pay their fair share, and that invests in a just recovery for all Rhode Islanders. All we need is state lawmakers with the political will to make it happen.”

Groups calling for the above Justice Budget include DARE, the Rhode Island Working Families Party, Sunrise Providence, Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, RI Center for Justice, Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance (AMOR), Childhood Lead Action Project, Hope’s Harvest RI, ReclaimRI, Formerly Incarcerated Union of RI, Never Again Action and Demand Progress.