Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to raze Atlantic Avenue’s House of Detention and rebuild a larger incarceration complex in its stead stumbled when it failed to get the approval from Community Board 2 members by a hair-thin margin at a raucous meeting on May 8 (“Community Board 2 narrowly votes not to approve mayor’s House of D expansion,” by Kevin Duggan, online May 9).
Members issued their purely advisory vote with 17 to 16 voting against their land use committee’s previous conditional recommendation to accept Hizzoner’s plan to raze the Boerum Hill lockup and replace it with a larger jail as part of the city’s borough-based jails plan.
Several board members said they couldn’t vote for the scheme due to the city’s continually-changing plans for the post-Rikers jail’s size and population.
State legislators passed a sweeping package of reforms on April 1, which will end cash bail and pretrial detention for almost all misdemeanor and nonviolent felony defendants, among other reforms, and which will reduce the amount of people awaiting trial in jail because they can’t afford bail.
Protesters — some of whom said they were from No New Jails NYC, the activist group opposed to any new jails — packed the room and shouted their opposition to the mayor’s plan, demanding the board reject the proposal.
Readers argued their opinions online:
The board member voting against the proposal to build a new jail by grandstanding and claiming poor treatment of minorities in jails is really an apples and oranges argument with one having nothing to do with the other.t from Bath Beach
The people are still going to be in prison — now the prison will just be more crowded and further away.
Mabrina Woobles from Flatbush
If a modern jail is needed — not the proposed tower — might help with a little planning from Borough Hall. The Criminal Court nextdoor is 90 years old…why not build replacements for the HOD and CC together elsewhere in Bklyn? Especially since SI is sending their folks over.
There are much better civic uses for these current locations…the BHOD hasn’t made sense with all the congestion it brings.Blogger Bill
from Boerum Hill
The board member who voted against the jail and stated the abuse and mis treatment inside is true. The reason a new jail is even begin discussed is because of the treatment Kalief Browder, and many others who died because of no accountability. So if this is a issue, then I feel it should be addressed, and by the way, the New York Times in 2017 mentioned “On average, Rikers Island holds about 10,000 inmates on a daily basis, with about 77,000 people cycling through in all each year. Most of the inmates — about 85 percent — have not yet been convicted of a crime; they are pretrial detainees, either held on bail or remanded to custody. The rest have been convicted and are serving short sentences. About 93 percent of the inmate population is male. The majority are African-Americans and Latinos from low-income neighborhoods in New York. The portion of the jail population that has been diagnosed with some sort of mental health issue has ballooned in recent years, rising to nearly 40 percent of inmates.A Times investigation published in July 2014 found that 129 inmates were seriously injured, requiring hospitalization, in an 11-month span in 2013, after altercations with correction officers. Guards were found to have pressured inmates not to seek medical help for these injuries and threatened them with further violence if they did.” ( New York Times ).Gabriel from Clinton Hill
Everyone agrees that Rikers is a hell hole and that it should be closed, as it is unsalvageable. But then what? Four mega lockups in every borough but Staten Island? Bad plan.
A modern jail and no larger than the building there now? But not a mega jail. RIKERS was built to be a safe humane rehabilitative facility. How did that work out? Yes, we need jails, smaller safer and effective. The mentally ill should be treated, not warehoused. The mayor’s plan is not that either. They have one chance to get this right for the next 50 years. Sure, rebuild the HOD no taller than it is now. Less than 875 beds.
Sid from Boerum Hill
I am a bit confused. The Brooklyn House of Detention was located on Atlantic Avenue since the 1950s. The mayor is not adding a new jail, just utilizing the space that already exists (since people are up in arms and want to close Rikers).
Where do they expect the prisoners from Rikers to go? SMHMary from Bed-Stuy
To the Editor,
Looks as though our Govern-Mayor, Cuomo, is busy making back room deals with the New Jersey governor, in cutting New Jersey drivers a little slack when it comes to the new congestion pricing scheme. It’s funny to hear that no one bothered to include the new MTA Chairman and President in any of these discussions directly impacting the funding they were supposed to receive.
Personally, I do not give a rat’s behind as I never drive in the city anymore, though, I do believe in equal opportunity shafting of everyone entering the emerald city. Brooklynites get no break. Motorists from Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx have to pay the full fare, so why not NJ? I envision this grand plan, once implemented, to be drilled with so many exemption holes; the bill would look like a slice of Swiss cheese.
Maybe this ridiculous plan should be flushed altogether.
Robert W. Lobenstein
Fair bus fares
To the Editor,
The MTA officials don’t want to concentrate on arresting fare beaters. When was the last time that these honchos rode on a bus or train?
How many times have I seen high school and intermediate school students sneaking on from the back? As soon as the bus discharges passengers, there they are ready to go on, and not paying their fares. Furthermore, they become unruly on the bus and take up seats which belong to passengers who have paid but now find themselves having to stand during their rides.
What solutions are offered? Don’t give me that restorative discipline approach. That’s a complete farce and everyone knows it.
I have also witnessed both adults and children getting on buses and giving all sorts of sob stories to the drivers to gain admittance. The bus drivers fall for this nonsense and you can see the smirks on the faces of these fare beaters as they walk down the aisle.
A solution would be to have police not in uniform on buses and trains ready to take appropriate action against these parasites.
Jail reform blues
To the Editor,
Queens State Assemblyman David Weprin introduced legislation in the State Assembly to permit some prison inmates who committed murder or rape to be eligible for parole once they reach age 55 and have served at least 15 years of their sentence. The same legislation was introduced by Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman in the State Senate.
This legislation, if passed by both the State Assembly and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would permit the state prison parole board to assess a convicted felon’s potential risk to society as part of its decision on the possible early release of the inmate. Both Weprin and Hoylman reference as justification that allowing these criminals to be eligible for parole could save New York State a billion dollars or more over time.
Never shy around a microphone or photo opportunity, Assemblyman Weprin has yet to promote this legislation at one of his standard Sunday press conferences. You will not read about it in one of his periodic newsletters mailed to constituents at taxpayers expense.
This ultra liberal “politically correct” legislation compliments a similar push to allow convicted felons the right to vote while serving time in prison. What’s next, reparations in the form of taxpayers’ rebates to reimburse ex-felons for lost income due to time served in prison?