City Council expected to vote to close Rikers Island Thursday

Posted: Updated:

A historic vote is expected in the chambers of City Hall Thursday where the City Council is expected to approve the official closing of Rikers Island.

The approval would replace the facility with four smaller community-based jails.

Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spearheaded a commission to study ways to close Rikers. She says after years of advocating for change, the fight to close the notorious complex is now a reality.

She called the plan to open four jails part of a “de-incarcerate model.”

Under the city plan, the jails would be built in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn; Kew Gardens in Queens; Lower Manhattan; and Mott Haven in the Bronx.

Opponents to the city plan believe smaller facilities are not the answer. Maya Hernandez, of the organization No New Jails, called it a “farce” to think that smaller jails would be safer.

“As studies have shown, jails don't work. Jails do not reduce harm, they just continue harm,” she says.

Hernandez believes instead of shelling out millions for new jails, the city should invest in affordable housing, education and other community concerns.

 

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