The city wants to set aside 250 beds for jail inmates with medical needs at two public hospitals in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.
The hospital system’s Correctional Health Services plan to set up so-called therapeutic beds in Woodhull Hospital on Broadway at Flushing Avenue, and at Bellevue Hospital on the distant isle, which Hizzoner said will provide a better environment for incarcerated New Yorkers in need of treatment.
“As we move forward to a smaller, safer, and fairer criminal justice system, we’re exploring all options that will improve our justice system and end the era of mass incarceration,” said de Blasio in a prepared statement. “That means pushing for creative solutions that will help improve the lives of people in custody by providing a more therapeutic environment that is so crucial to help people reenter their communities.”
The pilot program comes in addition to the city’s move to shut down the beleaguered Rikers Island prison complex in favor of four smaller borough-based jails and will offer incarcerated patients treatment for medical, mental health, and substance misuse needs in a more normalized environment, according to officials.
This will remove 250 beds from the borough-based jails, which are slated to host 3,300 beds across four lockups in all boroughs except Staten Island, as part of de Blasio’s plan to close the Rikers Island jail complex by 2026.
The city plans to close down the House of Detention on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill in January to make way for a 29-story, 295-foot, 886-bed jail facility, replacing the current 11-story 170-foot building housing 815 beds.
The mayor’s press team did not immediately clarify how many beds would go to which hospital, how many would be cut from which borough jails, or provide a timeline for the project.
The beds will be separated from the rest of the hospital and Department of Corrections staff will provide security, according to the mayor’s office.
The head of the Bed-Stuy public health facility said the move will give ill incarcerated Brooklynites the help they need.
“NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull is proud to be selected as one of two sites to pilot this innovative initiative, which will help provide critical support to this vulnerable population of patients,” said CEO Gregory Calliste in a prepared statement.