City officials began taking steps Monday for Rikers Island to become a public space by 2026 — synchronizing with the Mayor’s borough based jail plan that would leave the island vacant in the same year.
A uniform land use review procedure was filed on Dec. 2 that would reclassify the Bronx island as a public space, rather than a jail facility, according to a statement from City Hall.
The ULURP at hand will “officially prohibit the incarceration of individuals there after Dec. 31, 2026,” though it doesn’t address what the future holds for Rikers Island.
“The proposed mapping action does not lead to any new development or construction on its own,” that statement noted, adding that any future plans – such as housing development, green energy facilities or the prospect of expanding LaGuardia Airport —will require a new planning and public review process, including a separate approval for and environmental review.
The announcement came after the city began the procedure of closing facilities on Rikers Island along with the Brooklyn Detention Center in preparation for the new and upcoming jail plan.
“We are moving away from the failed policies of mass incarceration and showing the world that Rikers days are numbered,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson, adding that the remapping of Rikers “shows our deep commitment to closing” all of the jails there.
De Blasio reiterated Johnson’s sentiment: “We’re charting a new course forward for the island and the people of New York City.”
Police are searching for a suspected murderer who was mistakenly released from Rikers Island because of a paperwork error.
Christopher Buggs, 26, was awaiting trial in a 2018 murder when he was released on an unrelated case.
In the unrelated case, he was sentenced to 30 days of time served for criminal contempt.
He's accused of killing 55-year-old Ernest Brownlee outside a bodega in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Brownlee was apparently a career criminal who killed two men in the 1980s.
The Correction Department says it is conducting a full investigation into how Buggs was released.
"We are aware of this incident and a full investigation into how this happened is underway. Right now we are working with our law enforcement partners to return this individual to custody," Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Peter Thorne said.
"This is being fully investigated right now. We are going to put additional safeguards in place to make sure this never happens again. it's very frustrating. It was based on a court order, but it was apparently one case that this inmate had connected to him, but there were other charges obviously as well that should have meant he remained incarcerated. So we are going to get a full review of this immediately, make whatever changes we have to. In the meantime, we have a high level of confidence that he will be re-apprehended shortly," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The Blaz has such a talent with words.
You might say he has the best words.