Smaller Safer Fairer: A Roadmap to Closing Rikers Island
For the first time in history, closing Rikers island is the official policy of the City of New York.
Under our plan, within five years we will bring the daily number of people in our jails down to 7,000. We will also establish a Justice Implementation Task Force, chaired by Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and Zachary Carter, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York.
Under our plan, within five years we will bring the daily number of people in our jails down to 7,000. We will also establish a Justice Implementation Task Force, chaired by Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and Zachary Carter, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York.
Our plan is to close Rikers Island and replace it with a smaller network of modern jails. Our goal is a jail system that is smaller, safer, and fairer–one consistent with the overall criminal justice system we are building in New York City, in which crime continues to fall, the jail population drops significantly, and all New Yorkers are treated with dignity. Our newer system of jails will be focused on helping those incarcerated find a better path in life and maintain access to community supports. And it will ensure that officers have safer places to work and more support. What follows is a credible path to that goal by continuing to reduce both crime and incarceration and by ensuring that the City’s jails are humane productive places for those who work and are incarcerated there now. Specifically, this report includes 18 concrete strategies that will move the City toward a smaller jail population, safer facilities,and fairer culture inside jails. This plan will not be easy. Historically, community opposition, land use requirements, and the high cost of acquiring and developing new land have prevented the City from siting new jails or even expanding existing jails. And it will not be fast.
We estimate it will take at least a decade. In order to achieve our goal, we must have a jail population that is small enough to be housed safely off-Island. On an average day in 2017, there were approximately 9,400 people incarcerated in city jails with space for just 2,300 of these people in existing facilities in the boroughs. To close Rikers and replace it with a new, smaller network of jails, we will have to continue to bring the jail population down while ensuring that we sustain the City’s historically low crime rate–which is down 76% from 1990.