NYC mayor announces plan to reduce jail population by half

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New York City Mayor de Blasio on Friday announced his intention to shut down the Rikers Island Prison Complex and replace it with “at least a few new facilities” to incarcerate criminals elsewhere in the city.

“New York City will close the Rikers Island jail facility,” de Blasio said during a news conference at City Hall.

“It will take many years, it will take many tough decisions along the way. But it will happen.”

The mayor did not commit to adopting the recommendations in a draft report from a blue-ribbon panel led by former New York state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman that recommended building a new jail in each of the city’s five boroughs at an estimated cost of $10.6 billion.

“I’m working from a neutral position of saying I only know this: we will need a few more facilities,” de Blasio said. “There’s no assumption on the number or location or how many.”

In 2016, de Blasio publicly rejected calls to close Rikers Island, calling it a “noble concept” but noting that “it would cost many billions of dollars –- and I have to look out for what’s feasible, and I have to look out for the taxpayer.”

The New York Post obtained a draft of Lippman’s report that recommends reducing the Rikers population — currently around 10,000 — by nearly half and replacing the violence-plagued facility with five new jails across the city.

According to the plan, such actions would decrease the need for uniformed correction officers, reducing the number from 10,500 now to 3,700.

The number of civilian jail workers would remain the same at 2,000, “to promote positive, pro-social programming for those incarcerated,” the draft report notes.

Lippman’s proposal aims to construct new jails on city-owned land that’s “as close as possible to courthouses and public transportation.”

De Blasio was allegedly angry following The Post’s exclusive report published on Thursday evening revealing details from Lippman’s plan.

A source associated with City Hall said that de Blasio “wanted credit, and he wanted to preempt Lippman” who had been planning to release the report on Sunday.

Staten Island Borough President James Oddo criticized the plan Thursday evening by tweeting a link to The Post’s report.

“This. Will. Be. A. War,” Oddo wrote.

“I have no faith the ‘Commission’ gives a damn about my community but @NYCMayor can stand up for SI and say this is not happening.”

H/T: New York Post

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