18 Feb Chronology of Movement to Shutter Rikers Island: Will the City of New York Close the Jail Complex Before the Anniversary of Kalief Browder’s 24th Birthday on May 23, 2017?
A recent set of ambitious NY Politicos have proffered that closing Rikers Island makes sense. Mayor De Blasio dismisses statements by Governor Cuomo, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Board of Correction member Stanley Richards, NC Councilman Daniel Dromm and advocates as “Nobel.” The New York Times assayed the mayor’s willingness to set the goal of closing Rikers: “somewhere on the spectrum between a hassle-free subway ride and world peace.”
Review the recent statements for and against the shuttering of the notoriously corrupt, violent island jail complex in JAC’s TIMELINE:
- 1.1.14: Glenn E Martin Asks Bill De Blasio When He will Close Rikers at Mayoral Inaguration1.1.14"After a couple of hours in a line that wrapped around City Hall, barely able to feel my fingertips, I made it into the building. The line inside, winding through the beautiful architecture of the building, was as long as the line outside. Finally, after engaging in casual holiday conversation with some of New York’s most elite, I was summoned to walk over to the towering Mayor for my picture. With my heart racing, instead of posing, I turned to the Mayor and said, “My Mayor, with all due respect, I trust that you and I will have many opportunities to take a picture together. I am here to ask you to CLOSE RIKERS.”The Mayor tilted his head, looked down at me quizzically and said, “Why do you believe that?” I responded, “it’s an insidious place, a place that breeds violence and crime, a factory of despair, and corrupt beyond reform. Please close that place!” Mayor De Blasio thanked me, turned for a pic, then asked for my card and said his Chief of Staff would be in touch. That call never came."
- June 2014: Architect and Urban Designer Jim Venturi Presents ReThink NYC Plan for New La Guardia Airport6/1/2014"The winds are shifting toward the depopulation of Rikers, but replacing it is expensive. Some of the recently built facilities there cost billions. This was a mistake, but this is not a good reason to keep it open. Mayor De Blassio was elected with 74% of the vote based on the promise of creating a more just and equitable city. Rikers Island is the greatest symbol of inequality in New York. It is a horrific place populated by those who cannot afford to make bail. The economic need to expand the region's airports offers an elegant way out of this dilemma. The alternatives to expanding LGA into Rikers are very expensive, environmentally unsound and/or politically difficult. LaGuardia's need for extended runways, the region's need for more air capacity and LGA's proximity to the Northeast Corridor rail line (in Port Morris, the Bronx) makes this option by far the best choice for airport expansion. Given the benefits that the airport would gain from the use of Rikers, it makes sense for the airport project to pay for the closure of Rikers and the building of replacement facilities."
- Shut Down Rikers Island by Neil Barsky, The New York Times Sunday Review7/5/2015"The reality is that the only way to transform Rikers is to destroy it; it needs to be permanently closed. The buildings are crumbling. The guard culture of prisoner abuse and the gang culture of violence are ingrained. The complex is New York’s Guantánamo Bay: a secluded island, beyond the gaze of watchdogs, where the Constitution is no guide. It is a place that has outlived its usefulness." *Neil Barsky is the director of the documentary “Koch” and the chairman and founder of The Marshall Project, a nonprofit journalism organization that covers criminal justice and published this article in collaboration with The New York Times.
- Councilman Daniel Dromm Calls for Closure of Rikers During JAC Rally on City Hall Steps9.8.15
- Campaign to Shut Down Rikers Launches Petition10.14.15The Campaign to Shutdown Rikers is a New York City grassroots coalition of activists and organizations dedicated to organizing against the Rikers Island Jail Complex and for its immediate shut down. On October 14, 2015 the campaign launched a petition calling for the closure of Rikers: read, sign, and share petition with your networks: Email the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers
- Rise Up October Demonstrators Close Traffic Across Rikers Bridge10.23.2015As reported by Travis Morales of StopMassIncarceration.Net: "Sixteen people were arrested, and others forced away from the barricades...Fourteen protesters were released hours later, charged with disorderly conduct. Charges were dismissed against four of them, and 10 were given a 24-hour “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.” But Clark Kissinger & Miles Solay were put through the system with criminal charges of obstruction of government administration, a catch-all charge often used on political protesters. On December 17, 2015 they appeared in Queens Criminal Court, where the prosecutor refused to drop or lower the charges. A junior district attorney said her supervisor told her he was personally offended by the protest." Sign this petition to the Queens District Attorney calling on charges to be dropped.
- CAMPAIGN TO SHUT DOWN RIKERS INTERRUPTS NYC BOC MEETING11.10.2015Learn more about the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers and sign their petition here.
- It’s Time to Close Rikers, By Glenn Martin, Huffington Post11.24.2015It’s Time to Close Rikers, By Glenn Martin, Huffington Post, November 24, 2015 "Rikers stands as one terrible, symbolic example of the horrors of mass incarceration. Pushed by communities and the press, it's good to see City leaders seriously discussing solutions for Rikers. It should be clear that there is only one solution serious enough to warrant consideration here: It's time to #closeRIKERS."
- City Controller Scott Stringer: Rikers Island is an ‘urban shame’ that should be shut down12.10.2015City Controller Scott Stringer: Rikers Island is an ‘urban shame’ that should be shut down BY Reuven Blau, Graham Rayman NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 11.19.2015 “Right now, Rikers Island is a case study in poor outcomes,” he said. “We need to create a system that is a national model, rather than an urban shame.”
- Close it? Campaign Seeks to Shutter NYC’s Rikers Island Jail BY Jake Pearson, Associated Press, 01.09.161.9.16"A coalition of dozens of advocacy groups says it intends to pressure the mayor and other elected officials to take a stand, arguing the 400-acre island in the East River where most of the city's 10,000 inmates are held is too broken to be fixed, plagued by a culture of brutality, misconduct and corruption. They are up against a formidable opposition that derides the effort as a fantasy that ignores political and practical realities. Backers of the shut-it-down movement say the fundamental problem with Rikers is the very nature of the isolated and decades-old jail compound itself. They propose drastically decreasing the inmate population through changes in bail, diversion programs and other means, and then building a collection of new, better-designed jails in the city's five boroughs, where defendants are arrested and tried."
- NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Outlines Plan to Whittle-down Population of Rikers Until it is Unreasonable to Keep it Open2.11.16:Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito delivered her second State of the City address at Samuel Gompers Campus in the Bronx. The speaker's emphasis focused on criminal justice reform and proposals to end unnecessary stays in Rikers Island for those arrested on low-level offenses. These reforms, she said, are stepping stones on the path to shut down Rikers Island, for good. "The idea here is to get the population so small that we could get to a community-based approach," said Mark-Viverito, outlining her proposal to eventually replace Rikers with five borough jails src="https://www.wnyc.org/widgets/ondemand_player/wnyc/#file=/audio/json/575532/&share=1" width="100%" height="130" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
- Gov. Cuomo ``Intrigued`` by Call for Rikers Island shutdown by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito2.14.16“Rikers is a big problem and the Council president, when she talks about closing Rikers, that’s a big solution...You only solve a big problem with a big solution....Rikers Island as a physical plant is dated. It is very large and the design makes the operation of it even more difficult. You can design a facility that would be much easier to operate for the corrections officials and it would be safer for the inmates. Smaller facilities are better. There’s also new technology that is available.”
- Mayor De Blasio De Blasio Says Idea of Closing Rikers Jail Complex Is Unrealistic2.15.16"By Tuesday, the notion of closing Rikers had drawn a response from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who found himself in the unusual position of playing the political pragmatist. He said the idea was a “noble concept,” but then declared it all but dead in the water, a fanciful proposal somewhere on the spectrum between a hassle-free subway ride and world peace...“There is a certain appeal to the notion of starting over,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, told reporters on Tuesday, while promoting his $2.5 billion plan for a Brooklyn-Queens streetcar line. “The problem is, 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.”
- WNYC Leaders Diverge on Rikers Island Closure by Brigid Bergen2.16.16
- Board of Correction Member & Fortune Society CEO., Stanley Richards States Support for Rikers Closure2.16.16De Blasio issues reality check on calls to raze Rikers: "Closing the jail is 'noble concept,' but replacing it would cost 'billions and billions," mayor says By Rosa Goldensohn, Crains, New York "He's right, it's going to be expensive," said Stanley Richards, senior vice president of the Fortune Society, which serves formerly incarcerated people, and a member of the city's Board of Correction. "But I think we have to be bold enough, we have to be visionary enough, we have to be willing to say, 'It ends today.'"
- Errol Lewis Pens Editorial in NY Daily News2.16.16
- First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray Breaks w Hubby Mayor BdB and Publically States Support of Shuttering Rikers2.17.16Excerpted Q & A with First Lacy Chirlane McCray in Jesebel: Q: "One of the things that comes up repeatedly about Rikers is that it doesn’t serve mentally ill inmates particularly well. So many of the horrifying stories we’ve seen come out of Rikers are about mentally ill inmates not getting the treatment they need and in some cases dying. What do you think about calls to close the jail?" A: "I think it’s a great idea. And of course the jail doesn’t serve mentally ill people well. There are mental health services within Rikers, but need to do more. We always need to do more. But the issue is, [mentally ill inmates] shouldn’t be in there to begin with. That’s why we’re creating two diversion centers, and training the police to know how to deal with people who are having an episode or are in crisis, so that they can actually get the treatment that they need instead of ending up in jail where they don’t belong."
- De Blasio says he, first lady in ‘total agreement’ on Rikers2.18.16by By Emily Ngo firstname.lastname@example.org, Newsday: Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted Thursday that he and first lady Chirlane McCray are of one mind on the prospect of eventually shutting down Rikers Island, saying the couple is in “total agreement” in support of the premise.McCray in a Jezebel blog interview said closing the violence-plagued detention complex is a “great idea” because of its mental health treatment failings. Her husband had raised cautions about the practical issues, including a potential cost of billions of dollars and the question of where the detainees would be moved. In the meantime, he said the focus needs to be on improving conditions at Rikers. “We totally agree that it is a good concept, but we have to address this issue right now, so we need to get real about this,” the mayor said during an event near Union Square.