New Queens jail under construction

Construction continues to move forward for New York City's new borough-based jails program. 

Signage has gone up in Kew Gardens as the city's Department of Design and Construction has restricted access near 82nd Avenue as crews complete the groundwork for the new jail. 

The project has been met with outrage from those who live and work in the area. 

"Of course I am upset — I am very upset," said Avital Rabino, who works near the jail. 

"I think it needs to go somewhere else. I don't see the benefit of having a jail here," Juan Carlos Perez, who works in the area, said. "I don't like it."

The project is part of an $8.3 billion plan to close down Rikers Island by 2027 and create four smaller jails in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. The first jail being constructed is in Kew Gardens and is meant to replace the vacant Queens Detention Complex. 

The new Queens jail is expected to have 886 beds and a separate facility within the jail for female inmates. 

James Palumbo, an attorney, said having a new jail in Kew Gardens will be more convenient for him. 

"As an attorney, it's easier to visit your clients," Palumbo said. "And I don't think people are going to be escaping. So I think it's not a bad thing."

Neighbors told FOX 5 NY they fear their property value will go down when the new jail goes up. 

The Vera Institute of Justice's Jullian Harris-Calvin said she believes community-based jails would take a more humane approach and reduce re-incarceration. 

"Rikers has a long history of being incredibly violent. There is no way of changing that culture, and the dilapidated buildings that are adding to the ability to have violence. There has to be something done," Harris-Calvin said. "Sure, it would be great if we didn't have jails at all, but as long as the city of New York is going to incarcerate some people, it needs to be done humanely and needs to be done in a community-based setting so people can see their families and lawyers — and not be marooned on an island."

The city's Department of Design and Construction is expected to complete the community space and the garage at the Queens jails site before the end of the year.