New York City Council votes to close notorious Rikers Island jail

The New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to close...

Posted: Oct 18, 2019 9:31 AM

The New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to close Rikers Island jail Thursday and open four new borough-based facilities instead.

"Today is a day that the history books will look back on as a good day for New York City," Council Speaker Corey Johnson said. "This is a step forward, this is progress, this is the right thing to do."

The jail, which is on an island in the East River, has become a symbol of the ills of pretrial detention, most famously in the case of Kalief Browder. Browder took his own life after spending three years incarcerated at Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime.

The jail is also notorious for its violence and poor conditions. The US attorney's office for the Southern District of New York reached a settlement with the city in 2015 after a multi-year investigation found adolescent inmates were not protected from "the rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force by New York City Department of Correction staff and violence inflicted by other inmates."

Councilmember Robert Holden, a Democrat from Queens, was among the few to voice opposition to the plan.

"The closing of Rikers has become a religious movement, a symbol of criminal justice reform that will not actually solve the criminal justice system's problems," he said.

Calling the four planned replacement facilities "skyscraper jails," he expressed concern that they would be too congested in the event of a future crime spike.

"If the council votes in favor of this plan today, it will be a vote against the best interests of the constituents who elected us," Holden said. "It will also be against the best interests of detainees and corrections officers who will continue to endure the same situations in even more confined vertical spaces."

Others argued that the plan didn't do enough to make up for the failings of Rikers Island.

"I come from a world of trips to Rikers, of going up north to visit family members," said Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel, a Democrat representing Brooklyn. "We as a body, for a plan of this magnitude, addressing a system of racism and mass-incarceration -- this process has been inappropriately rushed," she said.

Ampry-Samuel said that her district contains so-called million-dollar blocks, where the annual cost of incarcerating a city block's residents is a seven-figure sum.

"That means we spend a million dollars a year on average in New York City and in the state incarcerating my constituents on just one block," she said. "Their circumstances are my concerns, and this process did not address the circumstances that lead them to Rikers Island."

Ampry-Samuel's was one of many statements met with applause from the public section of the chamber's balcony.

The balcony was cleared prior to the vote, after protesters erupted in chants of, "No new jails."

City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo claimed that something had been thrown from the balcony, noting "throwing things from the balcony compromises the safety of every member of this body."

A protestor responded "your safety is not in jeopardy, the safety of young black and brown people is in jeopardy."

"The era of mass incarceration is over. It's over," de Blasio said in a press conference after the vote.

"This is about valuing our people, no longer condemning people and sending them on a pathway that only made their lives worse and worse."

According to de Blasio, New York's jail population has declined by nearly half in the last six years. The jail population has declined from 11,000 in 2014 to about 7,000 today, and is projected to be approximately 3,300 by 2026, de Blasio added in a press release.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 814025

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1140561910
Mobile722691323
Madison52017686
Shelby37304341
Baldwin37087540
Tuscaloosa34966599
Montgomery33971725
Lee23149240
Calhoun22159470
Morgan20659372
Etowah19764496
Marshall18254300
Houston17310405
St. Clair15921337
Cullman15325290
Limestone15222198
Elmore15086284
Lauderdale14157294
Talladega13723272
DeKalb12574259
Walker11089366
Blount10102174
Autauga9901146
Jackson9793180
Coffee9182189
Dale8864181
Colbert8791200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6743127
Covington6685179
Chilton6592160
Russell626158
Franklin5935105
Chambers5560142
Marion4958126
Dallas4889199
Clarke473482
Pike4720105
Geneva4564126
Winston4476101
Lawrence4266117
Bibb421786
Barbour355675
Marengo334089
Monroe330462
Randolph327663
Butler324894
Pickens313982
Henry311265
Hale309487
Cherokee300057
Fayette290979
Washington251151
Cleburne247058
Crenshaw243775
Clay240767
Macon230762
Lamar217846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178838
Lowndes174161
Wilcox167738
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125844
Choctaw87027
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