Despite what Mayor Bill de Blasio has said publicly about the idea of closing Rikers Island being just too costly, the city is actually looking into closing the correctional facility in the East River just off LaGuardia Airport, DNAinfo reported. Sources tell the publication that the idea is to build new jails in neighborhoods, and to renovate existing borough detention centers.
The city is checking out sites in all of the outer boroughs for possible construction of two new jails. One is near the NYPD police academy in College Point, Queens. Another is near where an 800-inmate jail barge is moored in Hunt’s Point, the Bronx. There’s also a site along the Arthur Kill in the Rossville, Staten Island.
Staten Island Council Member Joe Borelli is among those saying it’s a bad idea. "Somebody really smart decided we're going to put people who are potentially violent criminals on an island away from society. No one wants a jail next to their house," said Borelli, who calls for the modernization of Rikers.
The Rikers closure plan would result in a system that could hold about 7,500 inmates. Rikers currently has about 10,000 inmates, but the mayor wants to cut that by one quarter anyway. As for a timeline, a source told DNAinfo that it could take about 30 years and cost as much as $7 billion.