Rikers Closure Plan Passes: How We Got Here

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Speaker Mark-Viverito and Mayor de Blasio announce the plan to close Rikers.

Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office

2017: Speaker Mark-Viverito and Mayor de Blasio announce the plan to close Rikers.

A little shy of four years ago, reporter Ed Morales published this line on this website: “City Limits contacted all 51 members of the City Council, the five borough presidents and the three citywide officials to ask whether they support closing Rikers. Most were noncommittal.”

On Thursday, at a stated meeting of the City Council, its members committed. Thirty-six Council members voted in favor of the mayor’s borough jails plan. Thirteen voted no and two were absent. (The vote tally is below.)

The Council also approved legislation intended to prevent future city governments from keeping Rikers open.

Many voices—advocates, officials and writers—have shaped the debate over the future of incarceration in New York City that hit led to Thursday’s vote. A look at City Limits’ coverage of the topic—both before and after our the comprehensive 2015 series Closing Rikers that we produced in partnership with City & State—is far from a comprehensive rendering of the Rikers saga. But it does provide a sense of how long this argument has been going on, of the twists and turns it has taken, and of the many passionate viewpoints New Yorkers have about it. All of that will certainly bear on the next chapters.


Prelude to a Debate
February 1, 2000: Their Own Victims
June 1, 2000: Deadly Delay
December 1, 2001: Jailhouse Doc
February 16, 2004: Doesn’t Add Up; Brad H. Statistics Are Incomplete
July 18, 2005: Teens Leaving Rikers Avoid Queens Plaza
November 14, 2005: Mentally Ill Man was Stuck in Rikers
November 20, 2006: Prison Break—S. Bronx Land Cleared for Sale
March 19, 2007: Prisoners’ Rights Revised; Draft Rules Open for Debate
May 21, 2007: A Reprieve for Rules: Jail Board Calls Time-Out
July 16, 2007: New Rules Plus Jails Stirs Political Stew
June 22, 2011: In Debate Over New Jail, City Says An Aim Is To Prevent Violence
October 7, 2011: Hurricane Passes, But Worries About Rikers Evacuation Remain
March 27, 2012: Solitary Confinement On the Rise at Rikers
July 7, 2015: Did Rikers Policy Experiment Look at the Right Policies?
June 10, 2015: Correction Dept. Slows Bid to Restrict Rikers Visits


A City Considers its Options
February 12, 2016: Is Council Speaker Opening the Door to Closing Rikers?
February 23, 2016: Sharpton, Seabrook & Bronx DA Weigh In on Closing Rikers
May 17, 2016: Still Waiting for Rules to Prevent Rape on Rikers
July 19, 2016: City Jails Consider the Use of ‘Less-Than-Lethal’ Weapons
October 13, 2016: Violence in the City Jails and the Push to Close Rikers (Video)
October 27, 2016: NYC Jails Fail to Identify Prisoners With Cognitive Problems
January 12, 2017: Reports Indicate City’s Progress is Slow on Mental Health Planning for Inmates
April 1, 2017: Closing Rikers Goes from Pipe Dream to Policy


From Pipe Dream to Plan
June 22, 2017: Brooklyn DA Hopefuls Stake Out Positions on Bail Reform, Key to Closing Rikers
July 5, 2017: De Blasio and the Difficult Task of Closing Rikers Island
August 11, 2017: Election 2017 Policy Brief—Closing Rikers
September 5, 2017: Sal Albanese Outlines His Plan for Closing Rikers (Video)
December 4, 2017: Council Committee Grills Mayor’s Team on Plan to Close Rikers
February 21, 2018: Council’s Lancman on Next Steps to Close Rikers (Video)
May 7, 2018: City Should Shutter South Bronx Jail Barge, Protesters Say
May 10, 2018: A History of the City’s Floating Jail
April 6, 2018: Top Advocate Says Cuomo, De Blasio Both Can do More to Close Rikers (Video)
June 26, 2018: Amid Scrutiny of Jails and Jailers, NYC’s Private Prison Escapes Attention
July 18, 2018: City Limits’ Harry DiPrinzio on ‘The Jail Next Door’ (Audio)
October 1, 2018: The Kids are Leaving Rikers. Is it Really a New Day for Juvenile Justice in NYC?
October 4, 2018: Most Opponents of Proposed Bronx Jail Want No Jails, Period
November 12, 2018: Eyes Are on Senate Democrats and 3 Key Criminal Justice Reforms


Countdown to a Decision
January 21, 2019: Who’s Advising the City on its New Jails Plan?
January 30, 2019: Advocates Press Albany to Fix New York’s Parole System
March 25, 2019: Review Begins of City’s Plan to Build Four New Jails en Route to Closing Rikers
March 28, 2019: Max & Murphy–Bronx Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr. on Jails, Power and Running for Mayor
May 22, 2019: Deep Disagreements Ahead of Key Hearing on Bronx Jail Site
June 18, 2019: Legislature Closing in on Narrow Reforms to the State’s Parole System
June 20, 2019: Parole Reforms Fall Short
July 18, 2019: Max & Murphy—Borough Jails Plan Enters Key Phase
September 5, 2019: Closing Rikers—The 10 Major Concerns That Emerged at the Public Hearing


Opinion
City Limits has been proud to provide a platform for thoughtful commentary about Rikers and the possibility of closing it.

Close Rikers to Address the Violence of Jail Discrimination – For Now

11 Reasons Why De Blasio’s $11 Billion Jails Plan Will Fail

A Letter from Faith Leaders to the City Council on Borough Jails

NYC Should Learn from LA Before Building New Jails

Addressing Trauma is Key to Stopping Violence on Rikers and in the Jails That Will Replace It

The Unending Urgency of Closing Rikers

Decarcerating NYC Starts With Building Smaller Jails

Decisions on Jails are about People, Not Zoning

Closing Rikers and Building Borough Jails Would Create a More Humane NYC

The Three Questions NYC Must Answer if it is Serious About Closing Rikers

If it Approves Borough Jails, Council Must Invest in Mental Health

How New York Is Failing Those Left Behind At Rikers Island

Council Must Not Hide Behind ‘Member Deference’ on Borough Jails

NYC Can’t Close Rikers Until Albany Fixes Parole

‘Close Rikers’ Eschews Real Reform for a Real-Estate Drama

It’s Time to Improve and Embrace the Plan to Close Rikers Island

Mr. Mayor, it is Not Progressive to Build Cages for Humans

The Need for Correction Reform Goes Beyond Simply ‘Closing Rikers’

Lots of Talk About Closing Rikers, Not Enough About Shutting ‘Broken Windows’

Open Letter to the Mayor: NIMBY Needn’t Block Plans to Replace Rikers with Jails that Work

Dem Lawmaker Proposes Major Rikers Change

Shut Down Rikers, and Then What?

City Needs a Real Plan to Close Rikers, Lest One Failure Replace Another


Vote tally on the Borough Jails plan

Yes: Speaker Johnson, Adams, Ayala, Brannan, Chin, Cohen, Constantinides, Cornegy Jr., Cumbo, Dromm, Eugene, Gibson, Gjonaj, Grodenchik, Kallos, Koo, Koslowitz, Lancman, Lander, Levin, Levine, Louis, Miller, Moya, Perkins, Powers, Reynoso, Richards, Rivera, Rodriguez, Rose, Rosenthal, Salamanca Jr., Torres, Treyger and Vallone

No: Ampry-Samuel, Barron, Borelli, Cabrera, Deutsch, Diaz Sr., Espinal Jr., Holden, King, Matteo, Menchaca, Van Bramer and Yeger

Absent: Maisel and Ulrich

One thought on “Rikers Closure Plan Passes: How We Got Here

  1. I wonder if anyone realizes the underlying motivation for closing Rikers!! See how much interest there would be here if a “ brown fields “ law prohibited building on sites of former correctional facilities!!

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