Judge Says NYC Didn't Follow Law In Plans To Replace Lower Manhattan Detention Center

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Plans to close Rikers Island by 2026 now face a major hurdle after a judge’s ruling on one of four new sites where inmates would be relocated.

One of those new jails would have replaced the Manhattan Detention Complex in Chinatown, but a judge says it can’t move forward, and that could have implications for lawsuits against other locations.

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“If this jail had happened, Chinatown would have been destroyed,” plaintiff Ed Cuccia said.

There were cheers Tuesday outside the Manhattan Detention Complex on White Street by community members, including the group Neighbors United Below Canal. They sued the city to stop its plans to tear down the detention center and build a new one.

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The city had said the 29-story glass facade jail would “blend” in with the community, even having restaurants on the first floor.

But Monday, state Supreme Court Judge John Kelly ruled the city didn’t follow the law.

“The de Blasio administration was just grossly sloppy in the way they went about doing this,” CBS2 urban affairs expert Mark Peters told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.

Peters says the judge found several issues.

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“They changed the location midway through the process but forgot to re-scope it. They forgot to take a hard look at some of the health impacts of the construction,” he said.

The judge also found the city didn’t consult with the local community board.

“If one is stopped, the other ones must also be stopped. We’re also looking at tremendous budget deficits. How can the city in good conscience move forward when we can’t even get our kids into school in the right way?” said Jan Lee, co-founder of Neighbors United Below Canal.

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The mayor’s $8 billion plan to close Rikers is incumbent upon replacing Rikers with a jail in every borough except Staten Island.

A spokesperson for City Council Speaker Corey Johnson says he’s reviewing the decision, but the council remains as committed as ever to ensuring Rikers Island closes.

The city’s law department says it plans to appeal, but this could all delay the entire process a few years.

Attorneys for plaintiffs that are suing at locations in the Bronx and Queens say they’re going to take another look at this ruling and see how it might change their next steps.

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