New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will reportedly endorse a plan to be proposed by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to close down the city’s Rikers Island jail complex within a decade.
Lippman has been the head of a commission looking into the potential closing of Rikers, and according to the New York Post, the panel’s recommendation may include replacing it with a series of new jails that would be spread across the city’s five boroughs.
Rikers is home to around 10,000 prisoners, 80 percent of whom have not been convicted of any crime. The 10-year plan calls for slashing the jail’s population by letting inmates out on “supervised release.”
Lippman, who plans to release his panel’s report Sunday, was spotted by the Post outside City Hall on Thursday evening, and when asked about his plan, he said: “We’re close. We’re keeping everybody informed, taking feedback, and we’re almost ready. Soon. Once we have a report, you’ll get the report. Soon. We’re very close.”
According to the Post, panel member Herbert Sturtz, who is also chairman of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, confirmed that the report would support the closing of Rikers Island.
“Some of the people there will be on supervised release,” Sturtz said. “We want to make the bail system fair.”
The plan will first focus on reducing the population at Rikers, in an attempt to reduce the vast majority of inmates on the island who have not been convicted of any crime.
Sources says the Rikers plan had been in the works for some time, with the mayor and Lippman having regular conversations in recent weeks. The mayor himself had hinted at the possibility of news on the subject even this week, when he indicated something would be happening prior to the release of this year’s executive budget.
The Post reports that although de Blasio publicly rejected the idea of closing Rikers, he and Mark-Viverito are expected to back the commission’s plan.
De Blasio, Mark-Viverito and Lippman have all declined comment to both the Post and Politico.