Plan to close Rikers Island now in the hands of city council

The plan to close Rikers Island and replace it with four smaller borough-based jails is now in the hands of the New York City Council. 

A council subcommittee held a day-long hearing on the plan, which was presented by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. 

“Closing the jails on Rikers Island is not simply about changing locations or constructing new buildings. Our goal is to create buildings that stand as new models for justice,” said Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

The De Blasio administration says that the $8.7B plan, approved by the city planning commission, would reduce the city’s jailed population and create safer detention facilities. The plan has drawn the support of many who were once incarcerated at Rikers Island. 

However, the smaller jails face strong opposition from neighborhood advocates in each borough, with some advocates opposing the building of any new jails altogether.

Judge Jonathan Lippman, who oversaw the Rikers Commission which created the plan, was booed when he argued that there was “no viable path to closing Rikers that doesn’t include Borough-based facilities.”

The full city council will vote on the proposal in the coming weeks.