April 3, 2017
On Friday, March 31, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his commitment to close the complex of jails on Riker’s Island within 10 years.
Falling crime rates are behind the possible closure. The number of people imprisoned in New York City’s jail system has fallen to roughly 9,500, from more than 20,000 about 20 years ago.
To move forward, the City’s plan requires that number to fall to 7,000 in the next five years. Then, the city will begin to build new jails to replace the complex on Rikers, which has become increasingly controversial for its grim conditions. If in 10 years there are just 5,000 people in the jail system, Rikers will be able to close.
But if crime rates stagnate or begin to rise again, all bets are off. “Any talk of getting off Rikers is meaningless if we don’t keep reducing crime,” said Mayor de Blasio.
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