Rebuild Rikers Island’s prisons, don’t replace them


If Mayor Eric Adams isn’t on board with the new county jail for Chinatown, he should scrap Bill de Blasio’s plan entirely and build a new, modern facility on Rikers instead.

Beginner Lower East Side City Council member Christopher Marte says he expressed himself wrongly as he told a grateful audience that he had persuaded Mayor Adams out of Chinatown’s proposed prison tower. At the very least, his “bug” suggests how much the community hates the idea. But that’s true of all four neighborhoods earmarked for new prisons as part of the Close Rikers plan.

The project is already dead in the water. It was “accelerated” at $8.2 billion last year but would cost a lot more now that inflation is raging and could only incarcerate 3,544 inmates – far less than the current prison population or even the all-time low of 4,702 set during the pandemic.

At least put this impending disaster on hold, Mr. Mayor, and watch the construction of modern facilities for at least 5,000 people on Rikers Island – which can certainly be completed well before de Blasio’s fantasy prisons. (Complaints about how difficult it is to visit the island, etc. are much easier to fix than cramming prisons into busy neighborhoods.)

Facing reality is the best thing you can do for threatened neighborhoods and for the city as a whole and for the New Yorkers who really need to be locked up somewhere. Rebuild Rikers Island’s prisons, don’t replace them


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