Rikers Island to close, NY mayor says

Cheryl Sanders
April 1, 2017

If the city closes Rikers, then finds it needs more jail space than the plan projects, it'll be spending far more than $10 billion to build new facilities (and fighting more community sentiment) than Lippmann and his experts guess.

The mayor of New York City has supported the idea of closing down city's notorious prison on Rikers Island. "I am proud to chart a course for our city that lives up to reality". Browder's case drew even more attention after this year's series documentary on his case. Now 10,000 inmates are housed at Rikers Island. Arrested as a 16-year-old for stealing a backpack, Browder spent the next three years on Rikers Island where he suffered frequent beatings by guards and inmates and spent almost 300 days in solitary confinement, without ever being charged, all because his family couldn't afford the $3,000 bail.

The site sits between the city's boroughs of Queens and the Bronx. Martin is featured in the 2016 documentary "13th" that likens incarceration to slavery.

The New York Civil Liberties Union said it is "relieved that the end of Rikers Island is finally in sight".

NY tabloids are full of almost-daily stories of attacks inside the prison and poor conditions, and abuse of both prisoners and staff. Currently, 9,300 inmates are housed at Rikers. The city was scrutinized over conditions at the facility after the 2015 death of Kalief Browder, who was arrested at the age of 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack and spent three years at Rikers Island without a trial.

Rikers, opened in 1932, is a 413-acre complex on the East River. The speech sparked an intense political debate about the plausibility of closing down one of the largest jails in the world. In 2013, Mother Jones magazine declared it one of the 10 worst correctional facilities in the country.

Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and the rapper Tupac Shakur have slept in its cells.

Over the years, the stories about Rikers have caught headlines across the country.

Under the original law, ICE officers were also kicked out of Rikers Island and correction officers aren't able to assist federal authorities with enforcement. In September, six guards were sentenced to several years imprisonment for assaulting an inmate.

Media outlets began reporting on Thursday and early Friday that a New York City commission had finished a report recommending the jail be closed, and inmates be moved to smaller jails in each of the five boroughs.

The proposal calls for cutting the population at Rikers by allowing inmates to return to society under supervised release.

"I'm working from a neutral position of saying I only know this: We will need a few more facilities", de Blasio said. "Rikers Island is an example and an expression of a major national problem".

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