City Council Sets Vote On Plan To Close Rikers Island

Mack Rosenberg
October 15, 2019 - 6:15 pm
Rikers Island

Spencer Platt/Getty Images


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The City Council is set to vote Thursday on a plan to shut down the Rikers Island jail complex and replace it with four borough-based prisons.

The city’s planning commission approved the controversial plan in September, and after a hearing on the plan, the City Council’s vote in the final step in moving forward with the proposal.

While the controversial plan has generated a slew of complaints from New Yorkers, there seems to be a lot of support for the plan among city lawmakers.

“It's time to close Rikers Island,” said Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin.

He pointed to the jail complex’s isolated location as a main issue of the current system and says having smaller prisons throughout the city will allow for closer attention to be paid to inmates.

“By having something that is borough-based, this is then part of the rest of our city, we can't pretend like it's not there,” Levin said.

The proposal is expected to cost around $11 billion and the city is expecting to have the new jails built by 2027 in Chinatown, Kew Gardens, Boerum Hill and Mott Haven.

RELATED: Report Estimates NYC Jail Population Will Be Cut In Half 

Critics of the plan say that money should be put to better use, such as proper mental health care for inmates.

Though, Levin notes that is part of the plan to construct an entirely new jail system.

“We need to both close Rikers and create a new system and we have to invest in mental health and housing and education alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice,” he said.

An agreement has also been reached to lower the allowable height for the new jails. None of them will be more than 29-stories tall.