Rikers Island

Financial District, Policy

80 Centre Street via Wiki Commons

On Wednesday, city officials announced that plans to build a 40-floor high-rise detention center at 80 Centre Street will not be moving forward, reports the Daily News. The site had been proposed earlier this year as part of a plan to close the jail at Rikers Island and relocate the inmate population to four local jails spread throughout the boroughs. The de Blasio administration cited logistical challenges associated with moving the current tenants, which include the Manhattan Marriage Bureau and offices of the Manhattan District Attorney, as reason for the decision.

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Policy

Image of Rikers Island via Wikimedia

Four new borough-based jails have been proposed for New York City as part of a plan to close Rikers Island, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday. The proposed facilities, which include building sites in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, will contain about 1,500 beds each and offer on-site support services. The new jails would include space for educational programming, recreation, therapeutic services and staff parking. There will also be community facilities and street-level retail space, providing amenities to the surrounding neighborhood.

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Policy

Photo of Rikers Island courtesy of Wikimedia

New York City has awarded architecture firm Perkins Eastman a $7.6 million contract to study where to build jails that would eventually replace those on Rikers Island, the Wall Street Journal reported. The firm will have ten months to propose locations for new jails while looking into whether existing jails could be expanded. Mayor Bill de Blasio in June released his plan to close Rikers over the next ten years, focusing first on significantly lowering the number of inmates.

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Policy, Queens

Photo of Rikers Island courtesy of Wikimedia

A group of Queens City Council members urged Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday to use a shuttered Kew Gardens jail as an alternative to the Rikers Island jail complex. The Queens Detention Complex at 126-02 82nd Street, which closed 15 years ago, once housed more than 450 prisoners but is now used to shoot television shows and film, including Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” (h/t DNAinfo). In a letter to the mayor, the 11 elected officials wrote that the Queens complex is “centrally located in a civic center, it is connected to the courts, and with the proper capital investment it can be functional for this use.”

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Design, Policy

justice in design, rikers island, justice hubs

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice, along with the Van Alen Institute, released a set of guidelines to decentralize Rikers Island and improve city jails in every borough. The “Justice in Design” report outlines recommendations for healthier jails, including interior and exterior design elements, greater amenities, and ways to better integrate the jail with the surrounding neighborhood. As one of the first steps to permanently closing Rikers, these new justice hubs, or decentralized borough-based jails, would be tailored to the needs of detainees, officers, lawyers, visitors and community members.

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Policy

Photo of Rikers Island courtesy of Wikimedia

In April, Mayor de Blasio announced his support of closing the jail complex on Rikers Island after protests and calls from activists and public officials. In a proposal released Thursday, the mayor says closing Rikers will take at least ten years and will require a big decline in the number of inmates there, a drop in crime rates and significant funding. As the New York Times reported, according to the city’s 51-page report, in order to close Rikers within a decade, the population at the complex needs to drop to 5,000. Currently, the daily population is about 9,400, much lower than the average of 20,000 inmates the prison held during the 1990s.

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Featured Story

Features, History

Past Prisons: Inside the new lives of 7 former NYC jails

By Penelope Bareau, Mon, April 10, 2017

A 1938 photo showing the Women’s House of Detention south of the Jefferson Market Courthouse, via NYPL

The past week has been full of news about Rikers Island and Mayor de Blasio’s announcement that the notorious prison will be closed and replaced with smaller facilities throughout the boroughs. Ideas for re-use of its 413 acres have included commercial, residential and mixed-use properties; academic centers; sports and recreation facilities; a convention center; or an expansion of nearby LaGuardia airport. And while anything final is estimated to be a decade away, this isn’t the first prison in NYC to be adaptively reused. From a health spa to a production studio to a housing development, 6sqft explores the new lives of seven past prisons.

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adaptive reuse, Transportation

On Friday 6sqft reported Mayor Bill De Blasio’s announcement that the Rikers Island jail complex will be closed, following a report by the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. “New York City has always been better than Rikers Island,” said the mayor when he announced the decision. The report also included ideas for the future of a post-jail Rikers. One such idea suggests that the island be used for the expansion of nearby LaGuardia Airport, raising the possibility of a new runway and additional terminal space, according to USA Today. “The Island is uniquely positioned to accommodate an expanded LaGuardia Airport that would reduce delays and could serve as many as 12 million more passengers annually,” the report states.

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Policy

Photo of Rikers Island courtesy of Wikimedia

A blue-ribbon commission has recommended that Rikers Island be closed and replaced with several smaller facilities based on a study of the storied jail’s future according to the Daily News. The panel, led by former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, has been studying the the troubled 10-jail facility for more than a year. Mr. Lippman and the Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, will officially announce the findings on Sunday. A member of the commission said that recommendations include supervised release of some detainees, new smaller jails across the city and an overhaul of the bail system as part of a transition that would take 10 years to complete. According to a recent New York Times report, Mayor de Blasio has shifted his position on the issue and will be announcing his support for a closure plan, possibly at a news conference Friday.

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adaptive reuse, Design, Urban Design

Rikers Island, Rikers, Melissa Mark-Viverito, FXFOWLE, Magnusson Architecture, Curtis + Ginsberg, ReThinkNYC, WXY Architecture, Andrew Cuomo, Closing Rikers

Curtis + Ginsberg Architects’ “city blocks”

The 413-acre plot of city-owned land, most of it landfill, that makes up Rikers Island is known more for its impenetrable prison than its waterfront property and breathtaking city views. Recently City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called for the closing of the jail complex, reports Crains, calling it an “ineffective, inefficient,” symbol of outdated policies and approach to criminal justice. An independent commission headed by Jonathan Lippman, the state’s former top judge, is creating a blueprint for accomplishing the prison’s closing. There is significant opposition to the idea, though others, from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the New York Times editorial board are behind it.

Find out what could replace the jail

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