The Rikers Island prison complex has had a bad reputation since it’s been open. It’s more than a black mark on New York City. Now, local officials have committed to removing it.
The New York Times reports that an independent commission on Rikers released suggestions to replace it within 10 years. There will be one facility located in each of the five burroughs.
According to Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge and leader of the study, Mayor De Blasio is doing the right thing.
On behalf of the commission and myself, I want you to know that we are all delighted, absolutely delighted, clearly, that the mayor has exercised real leadership and understanding that New York City must absolutely and as soon as possible close Rikers Island, period. It is a place that is an affront to humanity, and decency, and it is a stain on our city’s reputation.
Some have called the plan realistic. It points out a hefty $13.9 billion projected price tag. However, it would potentially save the city $1.4 billion per year.
Planning Rikers Island Closure
The panel agreed that there must be major changes made to the justice system for this plan to work. For example, the number of inmates should ideally be cut down in half to only 5,000 and low-level and non-violent offenders wouldn’t be incarcerated while awaiting trial.
Hopefully, the local government will take this opportunity to conduct a serious overhaul of a broken penal system. Spending billions of dollars on new facilities won’t go over well if they’ll only be used to hold a disproportionate number of black bodies as they always have.