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City Planning Commission Gives Green Light to Borough-Based Jail Proposal

The site of the Queens House of Detention that was decommissioned in 2002. Building will be demolished and redeveloped as part of City’s borough-based jail plan

Sept. 3, 2019 By Shane O’Brien

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to close down Rikers Island and replace it with four borough-based jails moved a step closer to reality on Tuesday with the City Planning Commission (CPC) approving the controversial plan.

The plan to shut down Rikers Island and replace it with four new community jails–one in each borough except for Staten Island–was approved by the CPC by a 9-3 vote, with one commissioner abstaining.

The proposal now goes to the City Council for a vote. The council, which will ultimately determine its fate, has 50 days to approve it. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The proposal has proved contentious since it was formally announced in August 2018, with many New Yorkers opposed to the construction of large jail complexes in residential communities.

The mayor backs the plan since he wants to shut Rikers Island, citing studies pointing to its unsafe and inhumane condition.

The city proposes replacing Rikers Island with four equal-sized jails in each of the four boroughs. Each jail would hold approximately 1,000 inmates and the Queens facility would go up in Kew Gardens.

The proposal calls for replacing the decommissioned Queens House of Detention at 126-02 82nd Ave. in Kew Gardens with a modern 27-story, 1.3 million square foot jail.

The city has based its proposal on a projected decline in New York City’s jail population. It expects to essentially halve the population of Rikers Island by 2026, when it aims to open the four new facilities.

The inmate population on Rikers Island currently stands at approximately 7,300 and the city forecasts that it will drop to 4,000 in the next seven years.

The proposal was rejected by all four community boards where the jails will be sited earlier this year.  Additionally, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr rejected the proposal in July.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams both conditionally approved it.

However, all decisions up until today have been advisory and non-binding. The CPC’s decision is the first to be binding.

The CPC’s announcement has received a mixed reaction.

Diaz said that the CPC ignored Bronx residents’ legitimate fears by approving the plan.

“It is unfortunate that the City Planning Commission has declined to listen to the serious concerns of the people of my borough, and has instead chosen to move forward with a plan to close Rikers Island that builds a new jail in the wrong place,” Diaz Jr said in a statement.

No New Jails group protesting at the public hearing in Kew Gardens earlier this year (Photo: Meghan Sackman)

Members of No New Jails NYC, a protest organization against the Mayor’s proposal, interrupted Tuesday’s CPC meeting and loudly protested as the commissioners explained their vote, according to various reports.

In a statement, the group said that the CPC failed to listen to the public and instead focused on profits and development.

“The City Planning Commission’s review of the jails plan was riddled with secrecy, lapses in transparency, conflict of interest, and potentially illegal actions,” the group said in a statement.

Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of New York, commended the CPC for approving the proposal, stating that there was a need to close Rikers Island. He urged the City Council to approve the plan.

“I am hopeful that they will work to make this plan the best that it can be for those inside and outside of the facilities,” Lippman said. “We have a once-in-generations opportunity to shut the door on a dark chapter in our City’s history.”

Queens residents have been particularly vociferous in their opposition of the mayor’s proposal.

Local residents have regularly protested against the proposed jail in Kew Gardens since March, when the public review process began.

In June, a grassroots movement of local residents and community groups marched on Queens Borough Hall to implore de Blasio to halt plans to build the Kew Gardens facility. A similar march took place in April.

Plans for the Kew Gardens jail (City Planning Commission). The new building is planned where the Queens Detention Complex is currently located

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30 Comments

J. Vivian

This proposal is a travesty. There is absolutely no consideration for the local residents on this issue. The only explanation for anyone voting to move forward on this plan is that they stand to make a lot of money on the deal. I have lived in Forest Hills South for 14 years and had planned to spend the rest of my life here. If this plan goes through, however, I will need to seriously re-think that decision and will probably move out of NYC altogether. The people who vote to move this forward deserve to be voted out of office the next time they are up for re-election.

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jb

No corruption here, folks:
The Chair of the Planning Commission was appointed by Mayor De Blasio.
Only activists favoring closing Rikers rallied at the meeting –
Because activists opposing Rikers closing were not told about the meeting.

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REALLY

Why don’t all these populations put the jails, homeless, drug-abuse & alcoholic center in there own back-yards….See how they will feel but no just give it everyone else they don’t matter WTF.

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maYOURdeblowsio

we should refer to him as the maYOUR because he is not my Mayor. anyone who pays taxes or is part of the “middle class” should be furious with this because none of these detention centers will be built in affluent areas and the low income areas are ripe for investment and gentrification; so that only leaves middle class areas with open or available spaces.

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One tired person

Once again the regular folks who are the backbone of the community pay the price for the egocentric Democrats. It’s time to turn the tide and stop voting for the dems or their socialist friends. How many lessons does it take to learn that they are not the path to follow. They only lead to destruction oh neighborhoods.

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Typical Queens Voter

How to ruin your community in three easy steps.
1) Elect Liberals
2) Elect Liberals Again
3) Wonder where it all went wrong

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Mac

@Typical- First of all only 10% of Queens voters turned out in the last election. We have a DA who is in office with 5% of the vote. Tell your nonsense to the people of Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama just to name a few Republican strongholds and poorest crime ridden states in the nation. Republican policies keep people poor and uneducated and incarcerated. DeBlasio is a fool who only got into office by voter apathy and his base are the residents of the public housing projects ( who have polling booths placed in their lobbies on Election Day) who he keeps telling NYC is their city. This prison should be placed in a zip code where the majority of inmates in Queens come from not in Kew Gardens. An article in NY Daily News a number of years ago stated that the overwhelming majority of inmates in NY state prisons came from 13 zip codes in NYC, put the community based jails in the communities who are generating the inmate population.

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Typical Queens Voter

Thanks for proving my point Mac. The apathy of the typical Queens voter. That’s why the QOL sucks in this place. If you have a D after your name you have a job for life, unless your are a total moron like Crowley. Competition. Let these political parasites earn your vote. Just don’t give it to them.

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FastFaxFacts

Which election? Your numbers are not accurate depending on which election you are referring to.

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Mac

Fast fax facts- What type of sentence is “your numbers are not accurate depending on which elections you are referring to”? Is this Russian bot? Fox alternate truth? DeBlasio speak?

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FastFaxFacts

Let’s try this again. You stated: “First of all only 10% of Queens voters turned out in the last election.” Which election are you referring to? To support your claims could we have a link?

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Mitch

If the guy stated we are sitting with a D.A. who received 5% of the total eligible vote on his post, hasn’t your question already been answered ?

FoHi

Exactly! Bozo originally got in when Anthony Weiner floundered with his sexting nonsense- and since the tiny margins of people in NYC who actually vote are like sheep who will just blindly follow the Democratic ticket (Dem. here but I do not vote strictly along party lines, didn’t vote for Bozo!), we get stuck with whoever’s running and then we suffer. A better site for this would be somewhere along the Belt Parkway in South Jamaica near where you have those shady airport hotels. The city should purchase a property there and build it up; and don’t give me that “the city already owns the Kew Gardens property” nonsense. We all know this borough based prison project is a wasteful, unnecessary and extremely costly endeavor; an extra few mil to purchase property won’t matter at this point. They can take a few floors off the height of the building since crime is apparently way down- you know “safest big city” mantra. I am sickened by all of this Rikers is not “humane” nonsense. It’s a prison Bozo! They’re criminals Bozo and honestly, the city would be way better off if we could dump them off somewhere far away, never to be seen again. Crime would actually go way down and the city would be a great place, people would want to leave the suburbs to raise families here, but instead we’re about to spend billions to create nicer prisons!!! Yea ok, meanwhile nice hardworking families have their kids on wait lists to go schools in their own neighborhood!!! Bozo has got to GO AWAY!

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FoHi

And by the way, in a follow up to my last post, here’s a prime example of where some of that ridiculous prison building money could go: how about having the city purchase the Parkway Hospital property? It’s literally right next to PS 196, a school which is so overcrowded that new entrants are put on a wait list! Build an addition right there, hello! But instead of actually providing solutions, Bozo and Carranza want to just keep going on attacking the schools for not being “diverse enough”. They both have got to GO AWAY!

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wrong

highest crime areas are big cities run by the democratic machines….their policies keep people poor and uneducated and incarcerated….that is how they make money off of them thru their not for profit racket…now they are dumping jails on low crime communities to help their real estate developer friends make a Disneyland for the rich out of Rikers island….Social Justice!!!

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Mac

Wrong is just plain wrong. All the private prison owners are huge Republican donors. Fact!! The poorest states in US according to US Census Bureau and Forbes Magazine are Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma and West Virginia. All but one are Republican strong holds for long period of time. Fact! The highest crime states according to FBI crime statistics are Tennessee, Alaska, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma and West the Virginia pretty much sane as poorest list with addition of Alaska. The highest educated states in US according to US Census and US News and World Report Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Washington, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. All Democratic states. Highest rates of incarceration according to US Department of Justice: in order highest to low Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, Tennessee and Florida. A Republican dominated list again. Just facts!

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progressive bubble gum

Rikers island is not a privately owned jail…. crime in big cities is much higher than the aforementioned states….Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit..etc…the reason these republican states have higher incarceration rates is because republican states actually enforce their laws and don’t have turnstile justice like in liberal sanctuary cities….

Mac

The reason Republican states have higher incarceration rates is directly tied to their higher poverty rates, The fact poorer people go to jail more frequently than richer people, that’s n every state. That is a fact. Democrats enforce laws. Your statement stating differently is just naive. Revolving door justice? Do you mean recidivism? Kindly google state prisons and DOJ recidivism rates, you’ll see you’re wrong yet again. Nobody said Rikers was privately owned. Please stay focused and on topic. We could tell you’re Fox informed Chicago is not in the top cities for crime they’re just constantly targeted by a propaganda network whose goal is to misinform its viewers like you.

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Mike T

Bubble gum between your ears? Sanctuary city -(French: ville sanctuaire; Spanish: ciudad santuario) refers to municipal jurisdictions, typically in North America and Western Europe, that limit their cooperation with the national government’s effort to enforce immigration law.
wikipedia.org › en › wiki ›Sanctuary_city
How gullible are you? Of course laws are enforced in sanctuary cities.

laws enforced in sanctuary cities

so deliberately obstructing federal immigration law now counts as enforcing law in progressive cities…hahhah….looks like Uncle Trumpy gonna crush sleepy Joe and Pocahontas…Thanks for your support!!!

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FoHo

Is anyone surprised? No doubt the bogus “city planning commission” is loaded with deBozo supporters. The whole thing is a scam. Like I said in other posts, we can’t get rid of him fast enough. And please for the love of our city and it’s well-being, stop just voting Democratic because that’s what you or your family always did, and I’m a registered Democrat! But nobody pays much attention to NYC politics and many people vote straight down the party line and then you get an uber liberal wacko like Bozo and his wife. At least I can hold my head high that I never voted for him but a lot of people out there who helped him get elected twice are feeling very sorry now that he is socially engineering schools and destroying neighborhoods. Hopefully since this prison mess will take so many years to execute, if we choose wisely maybe the next mayor we elect can put the kibosh on this plan. I was sickened last night when I checked and saw that we are stuck with Bozo till Jan 1, 2022! Oh God! The damage he can still do. Geez let’s hope he gets lost in Iowa somewhere!

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Resistance

This is terrible and will destroy peaceful residential communities. “Democratic socialism” aka socialism is destroying NYC with its “progressive” programs, criminals are rewarded, democrats in the city administration filling their pockets while touting “reforms” to the masses pinning residents against each other, not investing in communities, irresponsibility spending 8.7 BILLIONS !!! Remember who to vote for in local elections!!! Karen Koslowitz getting rich in favor of the new mega jail. Corey Johnson city speaker and who wants to be the next NYC mayor wants borough jails. Melinda Katz who wants to be the next Queens DA elections this November was originally for borough jails. This is not a democracy, this is a totalitarian regime, all decision makers are assigned by de Blasio all playing their roles as instructed by city administration who ignores citizens and rewards illegal activities. In a socialist country regular citizens live in poverty while the “elite socialist party” has all the means and special party rights living safety behind walls in safe neighborhoods. They do not want regular citizens to succeed, implementing no merit for students in public schools, destroying middle class communities, people try to make a better live for themselves without breaking any laws moving to better areas paying premiums hard earned money all to be devalued and taken away by the corrupt socialist NYC administration.

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Mac

Obviously Republican opportunist posting to this stream instead of contributing to the discussion. Put this jail in a zip code that is creating the inmates. It’s called community jail for a reason.

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faux outrage

you cant put jails in minority communities because systemic racism, school to prison pipeline, white supremacy, disinvestment in the community, lack of access to resources, white privilege, and a plethora of other fake concepts to normalize racism against Europeans

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geo

This is going to tear up the city.
Are planning commission members appointed by De Blasio?
Is there a way to investigate if there was payola for commission members?

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