A dozen criminal justice experts agree: Rikers must close now!

July 26, 2023

“It’s been said for years by elected officials, criminal justice advocates and families of individuals detained: The conditions at the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City are dire. …

“This year, there have been seven deaths in city jails to date. In 2022, there were 19 deaths — the deadliest year in almost a decade.

“Recent reports have highlighted the cruel jail conditions detainees, the vast majority of whom have not been convicted of a crime, are subjected to. Gothamist found that detainees were locked in caged showers and left in soiled clothes in crowded intake cells for hours, and that they had limited access to medical care. A court-appointed federal monitor, Steve Martin, has released damning reports, giving an account of the alarming conditions, use of force and violence at the jail complex and questioning city Correction Commissioner Louis Molina’s ability to make substantial changes.

“Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor Damian Williams on Monday called for federal receivership of the jail complex – a major blow for the city as it attempts to control Rikers. …

City & State spoke with over a dozen criminal justice experts about what needs to be done at Rikers. They made one thing clear: There is no silver bullet to fixing the jail complex. But some consensus emerged on the best course of action to address the issues on Rikers Island: Most experts agree the jail complex needs to be replaced, the population reduced and the culture changed. Many have also called for a federal takeover of the complex.”

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