Local Religious Leaders Rally To Close Rikers Island Jail Complex

Rich Lamb
September 19, 2019 - 2:09 pm
Rikers Island

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Religious leaders joined the former New York State chief justice on Thursday to call for the expedited closing of the Rikers Island jail complex.

Former Chief Justice Jonathan Lippman called Rikers a “stain on the soul of New York City” and a “symbol of despair,” as WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

He was surrounded by clerics in Foley Square, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who was blunt when speaking about the need to close to massive prison complex in the Bronx.

“Rikers has got to go. It's contrary to the bible's teaching to teach folks so harshly. It's contrary to our American values of fairness and hope and justice,” he said.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik declares a similar note, saying law and compassion “must stand together.”

“Rikers must be closed because frankly, those of us who have been there, who have seen it, it is devoid of any compassion,” Potasnik said.

The city’s planning commission already approved the plan to shut down the jail complex and replace it with four high-rise, borough-based jails in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.

The plan, which is expected to be completed by 2027, has drawn a slew of controversy, especially in the neighborhoods that will be directly affected by the new jails.

However, when asked about the plan, Lippman noted noting is perfect, but the plan is 100 times better than the current complex.