ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Rikers Island is dangerous and dated and should be replaced with a modern and safer jail for New York City.
In an interview Tuesday, the governor said the jail built in the 1930s has been a “festering” problem, dangerous for guards and inmates.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has announced a commission to study the fate of the 400-acre island in the East River. It houses most of the city’s 10,000 inmates.
Cuomo told NY1 the first step is to admit the problem, the second is to determine the alternative: one jail or many smaller facilities.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said closing Rikers is a noble and well-intended concept, but said it would cost many billions of dollars and the city doesn’t have a “viable pathway” to accomplish that now.
“I have to look out for what’s feasible and I have to look out for the taxpayer,” de Blasio said. “In the end you’re still going to need facilities. Where are you going to put them? How are you going to pay for them?”
The push for changes at Rikers began in 2014 after reports by The Associated Press on dozens of deaths highlighted poor supervision, questionable medical care and failure to prevent suicides.
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