City Council Votes To Close Rikers Island, NYPD Commissioner Responds

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill warned that the city's criminal justice reforms will place citizens at risk.

New York, NY – The New York City Council has voted to shutter the Rikers Island jail complex.

On Oct. 17, the council voted 36-13 in favor of closing the complex and approved a plan to funnel $8 billion into opening or expanding jail facilities in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx, NPR reported.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and his fellow Democrats have long declared that closing Rikers would signify a massive leap in their quest to end mass incarceration.

"What we are doing today will reshape the city for generations to come and impact the lives of every New Yorker," City Council speaker Corey Johnson said, according to NPR. "For decades, our city was unfair to those who became involved in the justice system, and the overwhelmingly majority who were caught up were black and brown men."

Rikers currently houses approximately 7,000 inmates, NPR reported.

Under the new plan, that population is expected to be reduced to just 3,300 inmates over the course of the next six years.

The 10,000-bed Rikers Island complex is slated to close down completely by 2026.

“This is about valuing our people, no longer condemning people and sending them on a pathway that only made their lives worse and worse,” de Blasio said, according to The New York Times. “Today we made history: The era of mass incarceration is over.”

The combined jail capacity would max out at just 3,300 inmates – a population so low that New York City hasn’t seen it in nearly 100 years, The New York Times reported.

Manhattan Institute fellow Rafael Mangual blasted the plan, which will greatly reduce the city’s jail capacity, and said that the move will place law-abiding citizens at risk.

"There is simply no way to cut the average daily jail population — which the city itself has described as 'more violent and difficult to manage' — that much more without leaving dangerous criminals on the street," Mangual argued, according to NPR.

New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner James O’Neill said he is very concerned about the ramifications of the city council’s new plan.

“I’m really concerned, going forward with the reduced capacity, that we’ll be able to keep the city as safe as possible,” Commissioner O’Neill said during an interview with WCBS.

“Look at where we are now in 2019 – look at the crime rate, the murder rate, the shooting rate,” the commissioner noted. “If you commit those crimes, there should be consequences. And if you have a significant criminal history, you should be held in pretrial.”

Commissioner O’Neill said that the department will need to work with city leaders to ensure there will be enough capacity “to hold people that are committing serious crimes.”

Johnson has argued that new jail reforms – including a no-bail provision set to begin in January of 2020 – will result in less people being held in custody prior to their trials, WCBS reported.

“We feel pretty good about where these numbers are,” the city council speaker declared.

But those are the very reforms that Commissioner O’Neill said he believes will place citizens at risk.

“Come January first, there are going to be very few people that are bail eligible,” he said. “So, you’re going to see people that have significant criminal histories, significant firearm histories, and they’re not going to be held.”

“That’s going to put people at risk,” the commissioner warned. “It’s going to put New Yorkers at risk, it’s going to put victims at risk.”

Comments (23)
No. 1-15
mindy1000
mindy1000

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

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

There are currently 7,000 inmates in Rikers (which can hold 10,000), and they want to transfer them to smaller regional jails that have a total occupancy of 3,300, a number of prisoners which NYC hasn't seen in over a century.....

Anyone want to wager on how long it will take there to be complaints of over crowding at the new facilities, or them becoming a revolving door due to lack of space for the violent or repeat offenders?

Vodkabreakfast
Vodkabreakfast

Rrrrriiiight.....so...if it ain’t gonna work as six-of-one, then it’s bound to work as a half-dozen-of-another. I should have paid more attention at school.

tfort
tfort

Legalize marijuana and tax it. Crime will drop. Less prisoners.

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

“Today we made history: The era of mass incarceration is over,” DeBlasio said.

That sounds scary.

the council voted 36-13 in favor of closing the complex and approved a plan to funnel $8 billion into opening or expanding jail facilities in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx

From Wiki, Rikers has a budget of $860 million a year, and apprently has plenty of room. Also, "approximately 85% of those detained at Rikers Island have not been convicted of a crime. Detainees include pretrial defendants, either held without bail or remanded in custody. The rest of the population have been convicted and are serving short sentences."

I did not know that; I always thought it was for the worst offenders. What do I know.

Also from Wiki, "according to a study done in 2015 by the Vera Institute of Justice, it costs the city approximately $209,000 to detain one person for one year at Rikers Island."

That's absolutely ridiculous, if true. Goodness grief. According to the Federal Register, the average cost of incarceration for a federal inmate was $36,300 in 2017. Sounds like New York is pretty messed up.

BlueLM101
BlueLM101

I'm a firm believer in being responsible for your actions and if you don't want to do the time, then don't do the crime.

ProGODProUSA
ProGODProUSA

Will California be far behind? Will they close San Quentin State Prison and Folsom State Prison?

Janken
Janken

I really have a hard time terminating which state is the worse. They both have the craziest POLITICIANS. California or New York. When these prisoners are let out and do a crime who is going to take responsibility

NickyJ
NickyJ

These politicians are wankers

Steve326m
Steve326m

God have mercy on us all. There is a competition between DeBlasio and Newsom which idiot can out do the other one for being the most stupid. The old movie from 1981 "Escape From New York" is about to become a horrible reality and another reason for me to avoid that state like the plague at all costs. You can't fix stupid and this is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Jones24
Jones24

That guy has to go.

RunningFromNY
RunningFromNY

Closing Rikers Island is motivated by the same singular factor as DeBlasio's, fortunately, empty promise to rid Central Park of carriage horses -- MONEY. Having failed to deliver the prime real estate where the horse stables are located to his wealthy developer friends/donors, he is serving up a much bigger fish. Can you imagine the value of the real estate which is Rikers Island? This time with the lame City Council behind him, DeBlasio will make good on his promise to his donors and the pot is so rich there will be plenty to line every crook's pocket.

Astow
Astow

“Valuing our people!” So you won’t mind if they drop YOUR people off in YOUR neighborhoods?

Astow
Astow

Also, there’s a NY Congressional candidate who wants to disarm the police! I think you should send Ryker’s Island residents to his home!

DR226
DR226

Very sad, poor little girl had her whole life ahead of her. Can't understand why that bitch was out after 3 assault arrests in a short time. What did the prosecutor let her plead to. Death is to good for them!!!