Plan to close New York's Rikers jails approved

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on October 18, 2019 - Duration: 01:31s

Plan to close New York's Rikers jails approved

The New York City Council voted on Thursday to close the city's infamous Rikers Island jail complex by 2026, casting off a detention system plagued by chronic violence and decrepit facilities, as the nation rethinks mass incarceration.

Ryan Brooks reports.

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Plan to close New York's Rikers jails approved

New York's City Council has voted to close jails on Rikers Island.

The city is trying to rid itself of a detention system dogged by chronic violence and broken-down facilities.

Council speaker Corey Johnson called Rikers Island a 'symbol of brutality and inhamnity.'

(SOUNDBITE) (English) COREY JOHNSON, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER, SAYING: "Conditions matter.

These jails are disgusting.

These jails should have been closed years ago.

We are doing it today.

I will proudly vote yes.

Thank you all very much." The notorious Rikers complex is one of the world's largest.

It's is home to nine jails, housing about 7,000 inmates a day, down from a peak of over 20,000 in the 1990s.

A 2014 Justice Depatment investigation found inmates rights were routinely violated through inmate-on-inmate violence and excessive force by guards.

Closing Rikers comes amid a wider rethink in the U.S. over mass incarceration.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Democrats support the closure.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK CITY MAYOR, BILL DE BLASIO, SAYING: "We believe in a justice system that focuses on the positive in each person, the humanity in each person, the possibilities in each person.

We believe in redemption.

And today's vote is a vote for redemption." The plan to replace Rikers comes with a price tag of more than $8 billion dollars and calls for four, smaller jails meant to be more humane and modern, by 2026.

The Rikers site itself is slated to become a public space.

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