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#CLOSErikers campaign comments on de Blasio announcement on planned jail closure

November 22, 2019


November 22, 2019

Contact: Loretta Kane (917-410-7242 or loretta@caminopr.com)


#CLOSErikers campaign comments on de Blasio announcement on planned jail closure

Statement from New York City Campaign Coordinator Brandon J. Holmes

NEW YORK — Following the announcement that New York City plans to close two jails next year, JustLeadershipUSA New York City Campaign Coordinator Brandon J. Holmes issued the following statement:

“On Thursday, City Hall announced that New York City would be closing two jails in the year 2020: Eric M. Taylor Center on Rikers Island and Brooklyn Detention Complex in Boerum Hill. The #CLOSErikers campaign views this as a step toward the ultimate goal of closing Rikers Island and all existing city jails on the fastest timeline possible. Survivors of Rikers Island demand that we not only close facilities but also begin the immediate demolition of excess capacity to rapidly reduce citywide jail capacity in the next year.

“George Motchan Detention Center (GMDC), a facility on Rikers Island, was emptied and closed in Summer 2018 yet the facility still stands; as would EMTC and BKDC, under their ‘Roadmap to Closing Rikers.’ Several decades ago, when the Rikers Island population was well over capacity, over 20,000 people were subject to inhumane conditions and overcrowding. To ensure that New York City may never repeat this shameful history, these facilities must be demolished. A facility that is closed does not permanently reduce jail capacity or guarantee future decarceration. Demolition is the only action that can achieve that end.

“With transparent plans for the immediate demolition and timeline of construction, it is the responsibility of this administration to publicly release the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice’ rationale for 1) which facilities are closing first and 2) how the demolition and construction of borough-based facilities by 2026 will not result in an increase in the population at Rikers Island or the Boat.

“Lastly, it is unsettling to hear that there are no plans to begin reducing the budget or staffing of the Department of Correction (DOC) despite acknowledging a significant reduction in citywide jail population and claims that such success is due, in part, to declines in enforcement. As the jail population sharply declined, we have witnessed extreme increases in the use of force. Following the eighth Nunez Report, the #CLOSErikers campaign and advocates in other coalitions and groups have demanded action from the Board of Correction. At the time of these next two facilities being closed, the DOC may maintain a ratio of roughly 10,000 correction officers to less than 6,000 people in custody. De Blasio must also take action to hold DOC accountable for these abuses of power and their history of creating a toxic, violent environment by significantly reducing their oversight and authority in New York City jails over the next few years.

“These and future closures were made possible by formerly incarcerated leaders and advocates across New York State who fought for meaningful pretrial reforms such as the new bail reform laws that go into effect January 1, 2020. The de Blasio administration must learn, from the historic land use vote, that survivors of Rikers Island and their loved ones must and will be centered in achieving the fastest closure of Rikers Island, ensuring that New York City solidifies its commitment to long term decarceration, improving conditions and divesting from the justice system and investing in community-based solutions.”


Led by directly impacted communities and in partnership with more than 150 organizations, the #CLOSErikers campaign fights to close the Rikers jail complex and #buildCOMMUNITIES.

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