" "

Rikers closure looms as correction officials address immediate challenges

0 43

Amidst mounting pressure from activists advocating for the closure of Rikers Island, Department of Correction officials testified before the council on the proposed budget, while concerns over staffing shortages and delayed construction projects lingered.

Darren Mack, co-director of the Freedom Agenda at the Urban Justice Center, voiced concerns over Mayor Adams’ proposed budget, criticizing it as conducive to maintaining Rikers’ operations due to the Department of Correction’s perceived inflated budget.

Correction Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie highlighted the staffing challenges in her opening testimony, revealing a significant attrition of approximately 3,400 uniformed staff members over the past four years. Efforts are underway to strategically deploy staff to essential posts within the jails.

Councilmembers pressed for updates on the delayed construction of new jails in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan, crucial for the closure of Rikers by 2027 as mandated by law. Questions arose regarding the lack of changes in the capital commitment plan despite significant delays and anticipated cost escalations.

The 10-year construction budget for new borough jails stands at $8.7 billion, with projections indicating a total expenditure of $15.5 billion, additional costs expected to be accommodated through the budgetary process, according to a City Hall official.

Meanwhile, the Department of Correction grapples with aging facilities in urgent need of repairs, with 80% of its construction budget earmarked for new borough jails. Efforts are underway to collaborate with the city’s Department of Design and Construction to mitigate delays and ensure the timely completion of the borough jails program.

Councilman Lincoln Restler of Brooklyn emphasized the significance of reducing the jail population, particularly among those serving city sentences. The surge in city-sentenced individuals at Rikers over the past two years underscores the importance of population management as a pivotal aspect of the closure strategy.

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *