Mayor Bill de Blasio officially began the process of shuttering Rikers Island on Thursday by issuing a request for proposal to develop an action plan to close the controversial jail complex and find alternate solutions.
“We have a moral obligation to close down Rikers Island and transition to a smaller, safer and fairer jail system,” the mayor said. “To make that a reality, we’ll be looking at where we can create more off-island space by expanding existing buildings or finding new sites and maintaining an honest dialogue with communities and elected officials.
“We’re moving aggressively on the long road to closing Rikers Island, and this is a crucial step forward,” he added.
The consultant will work with the city’s goal to operate detention facilities that go beyond confinement by providing behavioral, health, developmental and re-entry support for inmates, as well as offer improved access for service providers, lawyers, visitation and transportation to court.
Proposals will be due in mid-December with the consultant chosen in early January, the mayor’s office said, adding that “there will be robust community consultation workshops and engagement with neighborhood residents.”