The de Blasio administration took its first major step toward shutting down Rikers Island by announcing the planned closure of one its nine facilities by the summer of 2018.
Though a date has yet to be announced, the city’s Department of Corrections will shut down George Motchan Detention Center, which currently houses 600 men, this summer. Overall, the city’s jail population has fallen to 8,705, the lowest it has been since 1982.
“Every day we are making New York City’s jail system smaller and safer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This announcement is an important step in our plan to close Rikers Island and create more community-based facilities to better serve people in custody and our hard-working correctional staff.”
The shut down won’t result in any layoffs; instead the closure will help the DOC reduce overtime, and focus its attention on other critical services.
Among the various plans the city is considering are proposals to expand existing facilities in the boroughs, offering more alternatives to incarceration, and shorter sentences for minor, low-level offenses. More of these initiatives will be finalized in the coming months.