Deal Reached to Close Rikers, Labeled NY’s ‘Worst’ Jail

NEW YORK (AP) -

New York’s sprawling Rikers Island jail complex, which has come under scrutiny for corruption, violence and poor management, will close by 2027 under an agreement reached Wednesday between Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council leaders.

The deal between de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson, a fellow Democrat, calls for housing 5,000 inmates in smaller jails in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

De Blasio announced last March that he planned to close the entire complex within the decade, but the timeline agreed to Wednesday isn’t fast enough for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat who has testy relationship with the mayor.

Alphonso David, counsel to the governor, said de Blasio and the City Council “must go back to the drawing board and develop the political will to treat this as a priority.”

De Blasio announced last month that one of the nine jails at Rikers will close this summer.

Rikers Island, located in the East River between Queens and the Bronx, houses about 7,100 of the city’s inmate population of 9,000. A string of brutality cases prompted calls for its closure. The latest came from the state Commission of Correction, which earlier Wednesday released a report that ranked Rikers among the worst local jails in the state.

De Blasio responded to the report by blasting Albany for not making jail reforms.

“If the governor and the Legislature want to help us close Rikers more quickly, they have the power to do so,” he said Wednesday. “And if they don’t, then it’s on them that it’s going to take longer.”