NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Rikers Island is another step closer to being closed.
On Wednesday, a city council subcommittee voted 5-1 to close Rikers and open four smaller borough-based jails, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported.
A city council subcommittee voted to close Rikers by 2026, and replace the long-maligned facility with jails in Brooklyn, Queens, lower Manhattan and the Bronx.
But even those who voted yes say it won’t be without consequence.
“There are people in my community that I’ve worked very hard for for many years that are angry with me because I am voting ‘yes’ on this,” Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said.
Councilwoman Inez Barron brought Wednesday’s sole “no” vote. She said she supports closing Rikers, but does not support borough-based jails.
“It’s still a jail. It’s not identifying or correcting the issue of blacks and Latinos being incarcerated and detained at a rate far greater than others,” Barron said.
Former Rikers inmate Harvey Murphy celebrated the vote.
“It was a blessing. It was sentimental. I got really sentimental hearing the votes, knowing that justice is being served for those who can’t help themselves,” Murphy said.
Outside City Hall, there was a much different scene.
“Something is wrong that we’re pushing this through and disregarding the voices of New Yorkers when it comes to borough-based jails,” Councilman Andy King said.
Some people Moore spoke with said they fully support the idea of borough-based facilities but added as long as the Department of Correction is in charge, nothing will change.
“If all you do is break up Rikers and put it into four separate facilities but you don’t deal with the underlying problems that have made Rikers so dangerous, you’re just going to end up with four mini Rikers,” said Mark Peters, a former Department of Investigations commissioner.
In all, $8.7 billion would be poured into the new facilities, which would only contain a total of 3,300 beds. With a current population of roughly 7,200 inmates, Peters said it’s a tall order.
“What do you do if crime, already at historic lows, doesn’t drop by like 50% again, such that you only need 3,300 beds in a city with 8.5 million people?” Peters said.
By 2026, a new mayor and a new city council could be faced with a dilemma. The full city council will vote on the measure Thursday.
For the measure to pass, 26 members must vote yes.