Dear Mayor de Blasio and Director Fielder,
I am writing to submit my scoping comments to the New York City Department of Correctionsregarding the current proposal to expand the Brooklyn House of Detention as part of New YorkCity’s plan to close Rikers Island Correctional Facility.
While I support the closure of Rikers Island. I am unequivocally against the current New YorkCity Borough-Based Jail System proposal. The proposal nearly doubles the size of the current jail from 20 to approximately 36 stories. This considerable expansion is to accommodate an increase in housing for people in detention from an 810-bed to a 1,440-bed facility. This is completely unacceptable and contradicts the spirit of the City’s Borough-Based Jail System plan for smaller, safer, and fairer jails.
The Borough-Based Jail System plan calls for a reduction of New York City’s jailpopulation from its current average daily population approximately 7,800 to 5.000. My colleagues and I in the State Legislature have recently enacted three critical criminal justicereforms that will significantly reduce New York City’s jail population: Discovery. Speedy Trial,and Bail Reform. Based on the actions of the state legislature and current City initiatives toreduce the jail population. there is no reason we should build larger jails in our communities. Additionally. District Attorney Eric Gonzalez recently announced his Justice 2020 initiative, and has already refused to prosecute low-level offenses such as marijuana possession. and turnstile jumping also known as "theft of services”.
Therefore, my colleague Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and I have concluded that the City should submit an alternative proposal that reflects an average daily jail population ofapproximately 3,500. This will more accurately reflect what the criminal justice landscape will look like in the next few years.
Furthermore, the City’s plan lacks details regarding how to bring tangible resources to ourmost underserved communities. The implementation of employment, education, mental health and other services should be included in the City’s plan to close Rikers Island. Expanding the successful model of the community courts created by The Center for Court Innovation and implementing neighborhood policing in conjunction with the NYPD will help create more alternatives to incarceration.
I look forward to working with the City, other criminal justice entities, and my colleagues in theState Legislature to close Rikers Island and reform the criminal justice system.
Senator Velmanette Montgomery
To learn more about Senator Montgomery's work on this issue, visit:
To learn more about this hearing, vist:
To learn more about Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to close Rikers Island and and replace it with the NYC Borough-Based Jail System, visit: https://rikers.cityofnewyork.us/nyc-borough-based-jails/