The first of nine jails at the Rikers Island complex in New York City will be shut down by the summer, the city’s Department of Correction announced Tuesday afternoon.
According to AM New York, the George Motchan Detention Center will be the first closure under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s estimated 10-year plan to shut down the violence-plagued complex.
The George Motchan Detention Center holds about 600 men who are either awaiting trial or sentencing, according to the Correction Department. Inmates held at GMDC will be transferred elsewhere over the upcoming months. Despite the closure, no guards will be laid off, but overtime hours are expected to drop.
Brandon J. Holmes, a campaign coordinator for #CloseRikers, released a statement on Tuesday following the announcement:
This is an example of the concrete steps that advocates and directly impacted communities have been demanding from this Mayor ever since he made closing Rikers the official city policy of New York. We applaud the Mayor’s taking this step while also acknowledging that this is the first of many steps that the Mayor must take if he is serious about shutting down Torture Island for good. And we thank the thousands of directly impacted people who created the momentum leading to closure of a facility with over 2,000 beds. Much more work remains, and we will not stop advocating and agitating until we #CLOSErikers for good.
As the report notes, the overall closure of the jails on Rikers was made possible by an overall drop in the city’s jail population, which is now well below levels not seen since 1982. As of Jan. 1, 8,705 inmates were being held in the city’s jails.
As the New York Post notes, de Blasio noted that the jail population will need to drop to 5,000 before the city can remove all detainees from Rikers and relocate them to community-based facilities in each of the city’s five boroughs. Those community-based facilities can currently house only 2,300 detainees, so the city has also started to locate and construct new jails.
Read more at AM New York and the New York Post.