After years of petitioning and fighting for the closure of New York City’s infamous Rikers Island, the jail facility might finally close its doors in the near future. According to the New York Times, officials convened on Friday morning (March 31) to present an effective plan that’ll back Rikers’ termination, which reportedly received support from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The goals and recommendations were outlined in a 97-page report, and called for inmates to be transferred to “borough-based jails.” The closure of the longstanding complex — which holds around 10,000 people — will span across the next 10 years. Although the city will minimize its usage of Rikers for the next decade, new jails will be placed across New York City to house inmates. As noted by the NYT, de Blasio was opposed to shutting down the system because of the attached price tag that it would cost to make this initiative become a reality.
“The problem is, it would cost many billions of dollars, and I have to look out for what’s feasible and I have to look out for the taxpayer,” he initially said. Those involved with the task force behind closing down Rikers hope this will prompt the city to take an internal look at the injustices and corruption that plagued the jail’s inmates and correctional officers.
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) March 31, 2017
The news site adds that in order for the mission to work, Rikers’ population needs to dramatically decrease. Handling low-level crimes as civil cases instead of criminal could help reduce lengthy sentences, and shortening the amount of time that a person can be held on bail.
The Shut Down Rikers campaign also remained at the forefront in the battle to achieve its goal. Akeem Browder, brother of Kalief Browder who was 16-years-old when he was kept in solitary confinement for 800 days, said he promoted the organization’s importance after the death of Kalief.
“We put humans in cages and hide them away from other humans because Rikers Island, if you take the train you can see Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx. You can’t see Rikers Island,” Akeem Browder said. “The map blotches that out as though it doesn’t exist because it’s out of sight out of mind. You get the human to be dehumanized, and then put them back in society where people who’ve never been to jail sees that guy or girl who you can tell there’s something wrong with them.”
— Fusion (@Fusion) March 31, 2017
The news also received responses from those who were aware of the decision.
@caseytolan 10 years is a long time…. NY State can close facilities in months and relocate everyone. Why 10 years for Rikers?
— Kathy Morse (@KathyMorse0914) March 31, 2017
Yes. Closing Rikers won’t bring Kalief Browder back but at least he won’t have died in vain. Finally, progress. @ABC7NY
— 😘TeeTeeLuvsU😘 (@teetee_luvs_u) March 31, 2017
— Kenneth Shelton ? (@Shelton_K_) March 31, 2017