After years of debate and discussion, Riker’s Island Jail in New York is scheduled to close in 2026, according to Amanda Ottaway of Courthouse News.
With a reputation as one of the worst facilities to incarcerate human beings, politicians and the community of Queens, New York, felt that it is time to shut Riker’s down.
“Not another person should ever have to suffer through the inhumane conditions and the culture of abuse and violence that Riker’s fosters,” Brandon Holmes, campaign coordinator for #CLOSErikers, said.
Queens and the rest of New York are now faced with finding alternative housing for the current prison population. It is still up in the air whether or not to build new facilities in Queens or move the prisoners elsewhere.
When news of the jail’s future closing got out, some politicians signed-off while others did not. Those who are in favor of closing the facility feel that the jail has a horrible reputation for violence. Many are concerned about overcrowding and poor health conditions.
Others feel that closing the jail would incur the wrath of the public. The five boroughs in New York would have to come up with a plan on where to build another jail facility.
The opposing sides are looking into measures and proposals to slow down the process. Councilman Andy King, who voted not to close the jail, said he would like to see these proposals’ positive impacts before jails are put into neighborhoods.
Those who live in the inner city and suburbs are pushing back and putting up resistance. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who opposed the closure, pointed out that the proposal does not have a codified timeline for closing Riker’s.
Members of the city’s Land Use Committee feel that setting the goal of completion for 2026 gives both sides time to iron out the kinks and come-up with a solution that satisfies everyone.
In the meantime, Riker’s Island will continue to operate and live-up to its legacy as one of the worst jail facilities in the country for the next seven years.