The New York City Council is currently voting on a plan to close Rikers Island by 2026 and replace the complex with four new jails in Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens.
Christopher Wildeman, policy analysis and management professor, studies the consequences of mass imprisonment for inequality, with an emphasis on families, health, and children. He says the the plan to close Rikers would be a major step forward in improving confinement conditions for those incarcerated in New York City.
“Rikers has long been an exemplar of the problems associated with having massive – yet still overcrowded – correctional institutions. This move by New York City represents a key step forward in improving conditions of confinement in an era in which far, far fewer folks are incarcerated in local jails in New York City.
“Smaller, new facilities offer opportunities for thinking about the ways in which spaces can be designed that simultaneously keep incarcerated individuals and staff safe and maximize the possibility for easy family visitation and programming. Facilities that are located within neighborhoods, moreover, offer opportunities for families to visit with greater ease, which may be helpful to incarcerated individuals and their families alike.”