Social justice advocates said Thursday that their fight is not yet over after the city council of New York voted in favor of a plan to close the notorious Rikers Island jail complex by 2026 and open four borough-based jails.
“With an opportunity to take a stand against the centuries-old and universally-failed strategy of fixing jails by building jails,” said No New Jails (NNJ) in a statement, “the council fell miserably short of the mark.”
The $8.7 billion legislative package including the closure passed the council in a 36-13 vote and now heads to the desk of Mayor Bill De Blasio, who praised the plan and said at a press conference Thursday that the vote was “definitional and binding. Rikers is closing.”
As the New York Daily News reported,
The possibility of closing Rikers—a prison the Times‘ Mara Gay described as “a decrepit monument to an era of mass incarceration that robbed generations of black, Hispanic, and other Americans of their humanity”— was welcomed by carceral system reform advocates. Other aspects of the plan, however, including the new jails which will be housed in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, came under fire.
Protesters with NNJ underscored that message Thursday when they disrupted the council meeting with shouts of “If they build it, they will fill it!”
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