Reality Bites: Closing Rikers Island Seems Like A Good Idea…But For Who?

Rikers Island Correctional Facility has been the topic of many conversations. The most recent word on the street is that there is a proposal to close the dismal detention center. While this plan sounds like a relief, it could end up being more of a problem.  Considering all of the mishaps and shenanigans that have gone down there, they should have closed that place sooner. Since that idea is now being pushed forward with urgency, one has to ask…What is the real motivation behind closing Rikers Island?

There are a couple of things that could be happening here. For starters, maybe officials are more aware of the conditions and want to work at making things better. Rikers has been a hot mess since the beginning of time and there have been a myriad of unfortunate incidents that should have caused its closure a long time ago. The plan and proposal to shut down Rikers impacts everyone from the inmates locked up to the people in the communities where these small scale jails would be built.

According to a local newspaper, this plan includes building smaller jails in lieu of Rikers. These smaller jails would be easier to manage (allegedly). They would be spread out across the five boroughs in residential communities. There are already some detentions houses in the boroughs so these “smaller jails” would increase the jail population in some neighborhoods.

Some other suggestions include the supervised release of some of the other inmates as some of them are simply waiting for their court date (i.e. Kalief Browder) and a redesign of the bail system. It’s safe to say that the problem with Rikers wasn’t its size or location. Perhaps it was the forces behind the system and how it was run. So building smaller jails with the same administration would simply yield the same results…But that’s a story for another day.

New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio is on board with the plan and its program recommendations. This whole ordeal could cost nearly $10.6 billion and would take about 10 years to be completed. Let’s hope that all of this maneuvering is really for a good cause and not for a luxury housing condo complex. New York City doesn’t need a Big Apple version of Miami’s Star Island…I’m jussayin’.

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