The City Council approved a sweeping $8 billion plan to close the troubled jail complex and replace it with four smaller jails by 2026, an aggressive timeline that will prove challenging.
One 886-bed jail will tower over shops and restaurants in Downtown Brooklyn. Another will be next to a subway yard in Queens. In the Bronx, a jail will replace a Police Department tow pound. And another jail will rise in the shadow of City Hall in Manhattan.
That is at the heart of a plan for a landmark overhaul of New York City’s corrections system, which will culminate with the closing of Rikers Island, the jail complex with nearly 10,000 beds that has become notorious for chronic abuse, neglect and mismanagement.
The City Council decisively approved the proposal on Thursday, taking a step that seemed improbable just a few years ago. Supporters say the plan places New York City at the forefront of a national movement to reverse decades of mass incarceration that disproportionately affected black and Hispanic people.
Still, the aggressive timeline — closing Rikers by 2026 — could prove very challenging.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker, embraced the jails plan, throwing their political weight behind the measure despite steady opposition from neighborhoods whose residents worry that towering new jails will harm their quality of life. Corrections officers also criticized the plan as unrealistic.
“What we are doing today will reshape the city for generations to come and impact the lives of every New Yorker,” Mr. Johnson said on Thursday. “For decades, our city was unfair to those who became involved in the justice system, and the overwhelming majority who were caught up were black and brown men.”
With two years left in office, Mr. de Blasio also secured perhaps his most progressive achievement so far as mayor with the vote to close Rikers — an idea that even he dismissed a few years ago as impractical.
“This is about valuing our people, no longer condemning people and sending them on a pathway that only made their lives worse and worse,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Today we made history: The era of mass incarceration is over.”
What mass incarceration? Crime has been going down for over 20 years. As for Dancing Cojo's boast, it seems that besides the big windfall cash cow the developers will get from this gift from our representatives, another reason seems to be for these people to grandstand about being the first city to do this. At the expense of neighborhoods were the towers will be built and the communities they disrespected and undermined. And will eventually disenfranchise.