CUNY Cut Ties with Corcraft and support the call for Governor Cuomo to Grant Clemency Now.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Board of Trustees, CUNY College Presidents

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The university which prides itself on serving communities of color should not be investing in the exploitation of our communities. We recognize that the financial incentives underlying mass incarceration keep people in jails, prisons, and detention centers, even as COVID-19 spreads. There is no social distancing in prisons, making incarceration during a pandemic, a death sentence. All institutions have a moral obligation to divest from the prison industry in support of the fight for mass clemency and parole justice now.

Thus, we demand CUNY administration to divest from the prison industry and eliminate Corcraft, which utilizes prison slavery to produce its products, as a preferred vendor on their purchasing hierarchy. We demand CUNY to divest from human rights abuses in NY State prisons, in support of the call for Gov. Cuomo and state legislators to free all incarcerated people at risk of illness and death now.

To urge CUNY to cut ties from Corcraft and divest from the prison industry, please sign the petition here.

If you're a part of a club or organization that would like to sign onto the official letter, please DM us on Twitter, Instagram, or email at Cunyforabolition@gmail.com.

You can view the official letter and the list of groups that have signed on in support at the document linked here.

Note: administration at Brooklyn College has already removed Corcraft as a preferred vendor on their purchasing hierarchy. CUNY can too.

Thank you for your support,

CUNY for Abolition and Safety

To: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Board of Trustees, CUNY College Presidents
From: [Your Name]

Dear Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Board of Trustees, and College Presidents of CUNY,

The City University of New York Board of Trustees states that they “stand united against racism and racial injustice”; however, CUNY continues to actively support the prison industrial complex by investing in prisons and purchasing from Corcraft. CUNY’s endowment has ​over $275,000 worth of investments​ in the private prison industry; funding corporations such as Geo Group, Inc., the Corrections Corporation of America, Aramark, and G4S. Further, CUNY purchases from Corcraft, the "brand name" for the Division of Correctional Industries, an entity within the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, that exploits and extracts forced labor from incarcerated people. According to a March 2020 DOCCS document obtained by the Legal Aid Society, CUNY has purchased over $245,000 in products from Corcraft between 2009 and 2018 alone.

Though the company yields over $53 million in annual revenue, Corcraft pays incarcerated people $0.16-$0.65 an hour to produce classroom desks, filing cabinets, waste bins, lockers, and a wide range of other items for public institutions including SUNY and CUNY. Since the beginning of the pandemic, incarcerated people in New York State have been forced to produce hand sanitizer, masks, and even coffins for public institutions — We recognize that the financial incentives behind mass incarceration motivate the state to deny requests for clemency or parole, even as COVID-19 spreads. Thus, we are making a long-overdue call for CUNY to cut ties with Corcraft and divest from prisons to support the release of incarcerated people.

Pre-pandemic, the health and safety of incarcerated people was already at risk due to hazardous working conditions on the inside that often resulted in graphic on-the-job injuries expressed in lawsuits. Some of these injuries include a finger cut by an angle grinder in the Corcraft Wallkill blacksmith shop, an arm caught in a disc grinder at the Corcraft Fishkill industry shop, a back injury when a Corcraft Otisvile construction employee fell from a scaffold, and a leg injury when a Corcraft employee was forced to continue working despite repeating that he needs rest due to a pre-existing leg condition.

Now, incarcerated people are at risk of severe illness or death by COVID-19, as correctional staff sick with the virus trigger outbreaks in prisons; where social distancing without the use of solitary confinement is impossible. Further, incarcerated people have limited access to the hand sanitizer and PPE they produce for the public. On December 4, 2020, DOCCS confirmed that 1,848 incarcerated people tested positive for COVID-19. As of December 19, 2020, this number has ballooned to 2,368 people. In New York State prisons, 20 percent of people inside are over the age of 50. Many suffer from chronic illness and disease such as asthma; yet since March 2020, Governor Cuomo has granted clemency to only a small fraction of incarcerated people. Within this frame of time, 19 people incarcerated have died from COVID-19 in New York State. Prison should not be a death sentence.

We demand that CUNY, as a public institution that asserts they stand for racial justice, ceases to partake in the exploitation and death of our communities. We demand CUNY cut all purchasing contracts with Corcraft and divest from prisons. A demand for divestment from Corcraft on CUNY and SUNY campuses has already been voiced by students and faculty. Notably, the CUNY University Student Senate which represents all 25 campuses unanimously passed a resolution urging CUNY to divest from prisons and cut ties with Corcraft on November 29, 2020. As Governor Cuomo continues to deny clemency to thousands of incarcerated people at risk of infection, it has become more urgent for CUNY to take action.

Further, as redresses for utilizing prison slavery for state profits and in support of incarcerated people at the epicenter of COVID-19, we demand that Governor Cuomo grants immediate clemency to vulnerable people without exclusions on the basis of conviction and expedites the release of people on parole, prioritizing the elderly and immunocompromised. We demand Cuomo meet the demands of the Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) Campaign to expand release, testing, prevention efforts, treatment, and care. In solidarity with Release Aging People from Prisons and the #CuomoLetThemGo movement, we demand Governor Cuomo to take every precaution to protect the lives of people on the inside.

“We don't want our loved ones making masks, coffins, and hand sanitizer. We want them home with us," said Nawanna Tucker of the RAPP Campaign at a recent protest. Tucker’s husband has been behind bars for more than 30 years.

Sincerely,

CUNY for Abolition and Safety

Cosigned by:

The Release Aging People in Prisons Campaign