In its quest to shutter and replace Rikers Island, the city has managed to identify a site in the Bronx where a new jail could be housed, but political pushback could prevent that from happening.
According to Crain’s, some city officials believe an ideal location would be next door to the Bronx’s Hall of Justice on East 161st Street in Concourse Village. Given the site’s close proximity to the courthouse, housing the jail there could prevent trial delays, make it easier for lawyers to visit their clients, and for family members to visit their incarcerated loved ones, all while offering better public transportation options than Rikers Island.
However, a few obstacles stand in the way: For one, the site is one of three parcels, with one owned by the city and the other two owned by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (which would have to be transferred over to the city before the jail can be constructed).
Additionally, City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson has expressed her opposition to the new jail in her district because of its proposed size and its proximity to schools in the area.
Given the city’s short timeline to shutter Rikers Island in the next 10 years (and shut down first of nine Rikers Island facilities this summer), the de Blasio administration may have to opt for a less suitable location that would have better luck making it through the public approval process, notes Crain’s. If so, the new jail could end up being constructed in Mott Haven, though that plan is being met with criticism as well.
Three existing facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens would also be either expanded or renovated to accommodate the city’s jail population (which they hope to cut in half through bail and sentencing reform).
- Turf war over Bronx jail proposal [Crain’s]