NYC mayor wants to close Rikers Island jail within a decade

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday his plans to close Rikers Island - the troubled jail complex riddled with mismanagement and corruption - just a year after he said the idea was "unrealistic".

The mayor, who is up for re-election this year, has previously said that shutting the prison was a "noble idea" but would cost the city billions of dollars and take years to close.

In a statement sent to The Huffington Post, Martin said that he's "grateful" the mayor has realized that the only solution to the prison's problematic nature is to close it. It will require that our state government, and each component of our criminal justice system, contribute to the reform efforts critical to reducing our jail population and improving re-entry services and educational programming.

In the past, de Blasio had said that replacing the jail would be too expensive. "There's no assumption on the number or location or how many".

De Blasio credited the drop partly to shifts in how law enforcement handles lower level crimes, like smoking marijuana in public.

Rikers Island opened in 1932 and now houses 10,000 inmates with 80 percent awaiting trial. Past attempts to build or expand existing jails in the boroughs have been met with significant resistance from neighborhood groups and others.

De Blasio, Lippman and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito huddled together at City Hall Thursday night.

They mayor said it became clear that "we that had to adjust the time line if we were going to be honest about it - that a decade was the minimum in which it could be done".

A 2015 settlement of civil litigation over pervasive brutality led to the installation of a monitor responsible for overseeing the city's progress in adding thousands of surveillance cameras and stricter policies on use of force. Those reports included the suicide of Kalief Browder, who hanged himself after spending three years jailed - mostly in solitary - without trial and a homeless ex-Marine who essentially baked to death in a hot cell.



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