Plans to bring a new prison to Mott Haven is being met with skepticism by South Bronx residents, the New York Times reports. As part of its effort to shutdown the prison on Rikers Island, the city plans to expand existing facilities in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, and bring a new prison to a full city block at 320 Concord Avenue.
Some of the local residents the Times interviewed expressed concerns that building the jail would push the neighborhood backward. Mott Haven is already part of a police precinct that is one of the most violent in the city, and residents worry that adding a jail will make the situation worse.
One of the City Council members representing the South Bronx, Rafael Salamanca Jr. told the Times that he would oppose the jail (it has to go through the City Council in order to be approved) unless the city made an effort to shutdown two existing facilities in the Bronx—the Vernon C. Bain Center, and the Horizon Juvenile Center.
Another City Council member, Diana Ayala, said construction on the jail needed to go hand in hand with other investments in the neighborhood like schools and community centers and housing. A spokesperson for the Mayor told the Times that new affordable housing would not be affected by the jail and pointed to statistics that show that the city has created or preserved over 4,000 affordable units in the South Bronx.
Jonathan Lippman, the former New York State chief judge, and one of the advocates for shutting down Rikers told the Times that there was proof that city jails did not in fact increase crime rates or depreciate property values. He pointed to the facilities in Chinatown and Boerum Hill as examples, and also highlighted how the new jails would have more light and air and incorporate retail and community facilities into the center.