US: New NYC Jails Approved In Major Step Toward Closing Rikers Island - - PressFrom - US
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US New NYC Jails Approved In Major Step Toward Closing Rikers Island

01:01  18 october  2019
01:01  18 october  2019 Source:   patch.com

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This website shows New York City ’s roadmap to closing Rikers Island and replacing it with a smaller network When New York City began implementing the plan to close Rikers Island , the While we work toward the longer-term goal of closing the Rikers Island jails , we must act now to improve the

Our plan is to close Rikers Island and replace it with a smaller network of modern jails . Our goal is a jail system that is smaller, safer, and fairer – one consistent with the overall criminal justice system we are building in New York City , in which crime continues to fall, the jail population drops significantly

NEW YORK — The City Council approved plans Thursday to replace Rikers Island with four new jails in a historic step toward closing the notorious complex.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd© Provided by Planck, LLC, d/b/a Patch Media

Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposal for a new lockup in each borough but Staten Island overcame sustained criticism from both law-enforcement hawks and leftist prison-abolitionists to clear the council 36-13.

The vote followed raucous protests outside City Hall and inside the council chambers, where onlookers were ejected from the balcony after one threw what looked like papers onto the floor.

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In the spring of 2017, the City committed to closing the jails on Rikers Island and creating a network of modern and humane borough-based jails . The new facilities would be designed to foster safety and wellbeing for both those incarcerated and for staff, providing space for quality education, health

Rikers Island (/ˈraɪkərz/) is a 413.17-acre (1.67 km2) island in the East River between Queens and the Bronx that is home to New York City 's main jail complex.

While the $8.7 billion plan's supporters acknowledged the long road ahead, they said it was long past time to shutter a place that has tortured and killed countless New Yorkers over the course of its long, dark history.

"We are closing a penal colony in the East River which symbolizes inhumanity and brutality," council Speaker Johnson, a Chelsea Democrat, said before the vote as he appeared to pound his fist on a podium. "We cannot solve all the world’s problems in today’s vote. That is not possible. I wish we could. But we are doing something very, very significant here today."

The de Blasio administration plans to build the jails, ranging in height from 195 to 295 feet, by 2026 in Lower Manhattan, Downtown Brooklyn, Kew Gardens and Mott Haven. The facilities will have modern designs and give incarcerated people better access to their families, social services and the courts, from all of which they are isolated on Rikers, officials say.

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The new jails will feature community spaces, ground-floor retail and parking, the mayor said. “We’re taking a big step forward in the process of closing Rikers Island and creating a modern community-based jail system that is smaller, safer and fairer,” de Blasio said in a statement.

New Yorkers today are not as violent toward their neighbors as they were in the 1990s and commit fewer crimes. The police make fewer arrests. The jailed population is expected to fall even further in the coming years, after Democrats won the first clear majority in the State Legislature in decades in

Council Member Rafael Salamanca, a Bronx Democrat, voted against two land-use measures related to the plans including one specific to his borough. Those applications passed 35-14.

The project's approval came hours after city officials detailed a $391 million funding commitment for programs meant to reduce mass incarceration. The money — $125.7 million of which was already budgeted — will support alternatives to jail, services for people behind bars, housing and community programs, officials said.

That figure represents about 5 percent of the cost of building the new jails. Most of the money will be baselined spending implemented over roughly the next three years, ending in the 2023 fiscal year, council officials said.

"When we pledged to close Rikers Island, we made a promise to transform a broken criminal justice system and give back to the communities that have experienced the effects of mass incarceration firsthand," de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement. "By investing in neighborhoods and putting people on the path to success, we are making good and getting closer to a day where we’re the fairest, big city in America."

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Rikers Island is projected to close by 2026, with smaller, borough-based jails replacing the massive complex. “ Closing Rikers Island is a key piece of creating a smaller, safer and fairer criminal justice system in New York City ,” de Blasio says in a statement on the Roadmap to Closing Rikers website.

A New York City Council subcommittee voted Thursday to close Rikers Island by 2026. Rikers is located in the East River between Queens and the Bronx and houses the city’s main jail complex. It is notorious for its corruption and violent culture toward inmates. The proposed plan, approved by New

That deal came after marathon meetings between de Blasio's office and the council over what investments would accompany the new jails, Johnson said.

Amid the negotiations, Democratic Council Member Stephen Levin — whose district includes the Brooklyn jail site — held up Wednesday's committee vote on the jails for 90 minutes until he got $10 million more for restorative justice measures, lawmakers said.

The council also approved a resolution that lawmakers say will ultimately ban jails from operating on Rikers after the end of 2026, the city's target date for shuttering the island's facilities.

Both the city's projected jail population and the proposed sizes of the jails have shrunk significantly since the de Blasio administration first unveiled the plans in August 2018.

The city now expects to have 3,795 jail beds to hold an estimated 3,300 detainees and inmates, down from about 6,000 beds to hold roughly 5,000 people.

But neither those reductions nor the new pile of money sweetened the deal enough for several lawmakers who argued that closing Rikers will not repair the broken criminal-justice system of which it is a part.

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Four new jails scattered in neighborhoods across New York City would replace the city’s jails , including those on Rikers Island .CreditCreditStephanie Keith for The New York Times. But the plan still faces major obstacles, including opposition to new jails in some neighborhoods where residents

Proponents argue that opening one new jail in each borough close enough to courts will hasten the pace of adjudication and provide modern and humane "I'm proud that the Commission can play its part by voting to approve the four borough-based jails , an essential part of closing Rikers Island .

To Brooklyn Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the plan left Rikers's true future in question without doing enough to attack the "root causes" of mass incarceration.

"I believe this vote only enriches developers in the short term while leaving the fate of Rikers in the hands of a future mayor and a future council," Menchaca, a Democrat, said before voting no. "Yet the mayor asks us to trust him. I do not trust this mayor."

Menchaca's position echoed that of No New Jails NYC, a diffuse coalition of prison-abolition activists that argues the city does not need build more cages to close Rikers.

The coalition said two people were arrested as its members protested the plan outside City Hall Thursday morning. A crowd of protesters also confronted de Blasio on the building's front steps while shouting, "No new jails! Close Rikers now!"

No New Jails members have cast doubt on the city's commitment to closing its existing jails as it plans to spend billions of dollars on new ones rather than housing, health care and other critical services. They have also accused city officials of rushing the plans through the public land-use process with little regard for community concerns.

"At every step of the way they’re misleading people, and they know that," Brooklyn No New Jails activist Ben Ndugga-Kabuye said in a Wednesday interview.

Meanwhile, moderate council members worry the city's emphasis on alternatives to jail will put dangerous criminals back on the street.

Some lawmakers have called for renovating the existing facilities on Rikers instead of building high-rise jails in dense neighborhoods.

"The plan does not take into consideration the risks that these jails will present in the event of an emergency, nor does it consider the possibility of future spikes in crime, which I have seen in decades past," Queens Council Member Robert Holden said in a statement.

Supportive lawmakers said some of the critics' concerns are valid; Levin went so far as to thank the No New Jails movement for pushing the council to do better.

But the critiques ultimately did not shake the leading supporters from their positions.

"This is the hardest vote I have taken in my entire career. But you know what? I go to sleep at night, and I sleep very well," said Council Member Karen Koslowitz, a Democrat representing the Queens jail site. "The people that say no have no solutions. They just say no."

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