Report reveals Rikers Island closure plan

A Blue Ribbon Panel report released Sunday details how the city aims to close Rikers Island in the next 10 years.

Mayor Bill de Blasio made the closure announcement Friday, saying, "it is a historic occasion that for the first time in 85 years, we have an agreement to move off Rikers Island."

A 27-member commission to reform the criminal justice system in New York was assembled over a year ago with their main focus on Rikers Island. The proposed goal is to move to a borough-based jail system.

A recent report titled 'A More Just New York City' by an independent commission highlights some of the issues surrounding the violent prison, including inhumane conditions and costs.

Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito says the Rikers Island legacy of systemic violence and abuse has been a blemish on New York City for decades.

"For too long, New Yorkers have paid the price -- New Yorkers like Kalief Browder," she says.

Kalief Browder was 16 years old at the time he was sent to Rikers Island for allegedly stealing a backpack.

For over three years, Browder was treated inhumanely by correction officers and inmates and put in solitary confinement. He later committed suicide after his release.

Browder's story is just one of the many circumstances surrounding the decision to close the jail.

The report mentions the location of Rikers Island being a burden on the Department of Correction, and the courts when it comes to transporting inmates to court appearances. It says $31 million is budgeted for transportation costs alone for the jail.

The commission says it has already discussed plans on redeveloping the 413-acre island once the jail is torn down.

Those plans include the possible expansion of LaGuardia Airport, using the island as a base for energy infrastructure or housing critical environmental infrastructure.


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