New York Mayor De Blasio Announces the Closing of Rikers Island; Jay Z and John Legend Celebrate [VIDEO]
New York City’s most notorious jail Rikers Island will close, announced New York Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on Friday evening (March 31). A committee led by former New York state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman recommended that the facility be shut down completely.
Throughout its history, the jails on Rikers Island have become infamous for police brutality and several investigations of misconduct and unexplained deaths. But the closure of the jails are not going to happen overnight.
"It will take many years, it will take many tough decisions along the way. But it will happen." said Mayor De Blasio. "It will not happened overnight. It's going to take a lot of work. There is no quick fix."
The mayor promised to replace it with smaller jails scattered around the city but was scarce on the details of how they are going to be built or who will pay for it (The projected cost: $10.6 billion.). The mayor acknowledged that it will likely take 10 years for Rikers to be fully closed - long after he has left office. Currently, 9,300 inmates are housed at Rikers.
Criminal justice reform advocates as well as celebrities praised the mayor’s historic announcement. On Twitter, Jay Z tweeted an image of Kalief Browder with a quote by Barak Obama. Browder spent three years without a trial on Rikers Island when he was arrested at the age of 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack. He spent most of that time in solitary confinement. In 2015, following his release, he committed suicide.
Since then, the Jay Z-produced documentary, TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, have highlighted the problematic issues with the jail system and the criminal justice process.
John Legend also thanked De Blasio, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and others from the commission for their commitment to end mass incarceration. "In closing Rikers, New York City takes a crucial step towards ending #massincarceration. Now the hard work begins," he tweeted.
Check out their tweets below.