House of D officially closed: Mayor

The Broo
Photo by Kevin Duggan

The Brooklyn House of Detention officially closed today, after the city relocated all detainees at the Atlantic Avenue holding facility to other lockups around the city, according to the city’s chief corrections official.

“Thanks to exceptional work by our staff, everyone has been safely moved out of the Brooklyn Detention Complex,” said Department of Corrections Commissioner Cynthia Brann.

The Department of Corrections started the process of vacating the jail’s roughly 390 inmates to other facilities on Nov. 18, with most prisoners going to either the Manhattan Detention Complex — also called The Tombs — or the Vernon C. Bain Center in the Bronx, according to officials with the Mayor’s office, who said that the jail has been effectively out of commission since mid-December, which is also when the jail stopped taking in new detainees.

Officials plan to demolish and build a taller jail as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $8.7 billion plan to close the Rikers Island jail complex by 2026, and move inmates there to four new, or expanded jails in all boroughs except Staten Island.

The city chose to shut the Kings County facility first due to lack of air conditioning and programming space, officials said. 

Staff moved about 20 House of D inmates to Rikers Island, all of whom were over the age of 49-years old, and who were assigned to housing units specifically geared toward older detainees, or those requiring higher security.

Corrections honchos have reassigned almost all of the jail’s 535 employees to other facilities as well, except for a skeleton staff, which will stay at the jail and operate the bail window and oversee the final phases of decommissioning.

The bail window at the 62-year-old Boerum Hill lockup between Smith Street and Boerum Place will stay open and staffed until the city moves it to the nearby Kings County Criminal Court at Smith and State streets.

The jail warden and less than 10 staff will stay at the House of D, where they’ll focus on preserving records and equipment, and providing site security, officials said.

The corrections agency and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice will solicit bids to demolish the current 11-story, 170-foot, 815-bed facility before the end of March, and build an interim jail for the department to transfer detainees for court appearances during the construction of the new 29-story, 295-foot, 886-bed jail facility in keeping with City Hall’s massive land use application which Council approved on Oct. 17.

A spokeswoman for the agency declined to say when the city plans to demolish the old building or break ground on the new structures, but said that officials plan to start bidding out for construction of new jail no later than mid-2021, and want to wrap construction before Rikers Island closes in 2026.