New report shows what closing Rikers Island means for NYC

"The problem with Rikers Island is not the location... creating smaller new facilities ignores the very common sense reason why we put this facility on an isolated island in the first place", Borelli told Breitbart. In the wake of protests, and a number of publicized incidents of violence and mistreatment used on inmates, the facility that opened in 1932 has numbered days. Closing the infamous penitentiary would require cutting the city's prison population nearly in half - to around 5,000 inmates - using bail reform, new sentencing procedures, and other strategies. Changes to the bail system, alternative sentencing and other city and state criminal justice reforms would be needed.

The city has been under increasing pressure to shutter Rikers amid years of exposes, scathing Justice Department reports and a flurry of expensive lawsuits.

Following Jay Z's support of Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposal to shut down Rikers Island, Public Advocate Letitia James is also on board with the decision and wants to name the 413-acre island after Kalief Browder.

An independent advisory commission, chaired by former chief judge Jonathan Lippman and impaneled by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, disagreed.

"The Island is uniquely positioned to accommodate an expanded LaGuardia Airport that would reduce delays and could serve as many as 12 million more passengers annually", the report says. "Each of the facilities would have varying capacities proportional to the population held from each Borough". It says $31 million is budgeted for transportation costs alone for the jail. That's just over 3 percent of the total population.

Per the report, a crucial step to closing Rikers would be halving its population to less than 5,000 so it could be replaced by a smaller, borough-based jail system. "As far as I am concerned, this ends the notion that the de Blasio administration will attempt to build such a facility on Staten Island". Not too long after his release, Browder died by suicide - a tragedy that many speculate was the result of the physical and psychological trauma he had endured at Rikers.

The commission studied Rikers for a year and made recommendations.

Slashings in city jails increased by 18%, from 131 in 2015 to 155 in 2016, records show. "Which communities throughout the five boroughs will now be forced to house a city jail?"

  • Audrey Hill