June 19, 2019 By Christian Murray
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has given the thumbs down to the Mayor’s borough-based jail proposal.
Katz, while supportive of the plan to close Rikers Island, noted in her rejection letter to the City Planning Commission that a 1,437-person jail as proposed for Kew Gardens is too big. She also wrote that New York’s jail population is declining at such a rate that a jail of this size is likely to be unnecessary.
Katz’ decision, while advisory, represents yet another blow for the mayor who is trying to gain support for his plan to shut down Rikers Island by 2027 and replace it with four 1,437-inmate jails—one in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens (Kew Gardens) and the Bronx.
The plan, filed as one ULURP application, is undergoing public review since rezonings are required.
“Closing Rikers Island is a moral imperative in our push to create a dignified, proactive criminal justice system,” Katz said in a statement. “But building massive incarceration facilities that will only replicate the horrific conditions on Rikers Island in direct contradiction to the decarceration reforms already being undertaken is deeply unfair and counterproductive.”
Katz’ decision is in line with Community Board 9, which rejected the plan on May 14 by a vote of 28-0. In fact, all four community boards where a jail has been proposed have rejected it.
Katz was critical of the city for not doing enough community outreach while formulating the plan.
The Kew Gardens proposal involves demolishing the dormant Queens Detention Complex and building a 27 story, 1.3 million square foot facility on the 126-02 82nd Ave. site.
Katz, citing recent testimony provided by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, said that the inmate population may drop to between 3,000 and 4,000—given declining crime rates and criminal justice reforms. The mayor’s proposal, announced before the testimony, is based on an inmate populate of about 5,000.
Her recommendation has going to the City Planning Commission which must hold a public hearing and render a decision on the application 60 days after July 3. Upon approval, the plan will then go to the City Council for a vote.
Katz Recommendation by Queens Post on Scribd
Katz is for closing down Rikers.
Obviously, that is because developers want Rikers. And a developer gave a bundle of loot for all those commercials and ads we see.
Katz damned-well knows the inmates are going to have to be housed somewhere. Or does she want them let loose all over the city?
Every on needs to write to Karen Koslowitz advising her to “vote NO on the Prison – or don’t get re-elected to the NYC Council.”
This is Ms. Koslowitz’s last term. Why else would she ignore her constituency?
When you call people with opposing views morons you just point out that you are the actual moron.
My name is Evan F. Boccardi, and I live here in Forest Hills, and I am planning on running to fill Koslowitz’s seat. I live three blocks away from this proposed jail, and I will physically block the bulldozer with my body before I see a single dime of taxpayer money spent on this monolithic, unnecessary jail. Koslowitz has ignored the will of the people for exactly the reasons you’ve highlighted; She is in her last term and totally apathetic. She collects a paycheck from us and gets driven around from photo-op to photo-op. We need a politician who actually cares about Democracy and the will of the constituents. This jail fight isn’t over, and I, for one, plan to fight this to the very end. We must!
This is a fair point. 1500 people in one location in the city is a lot to fit into a neighborhood. I do think it could work with half as many though that probably does increase costs of multiple buildings in different areas.
This article gives some good points about Rikers relocating the inmates to community jails.
So build the new jails in the neighborhoods that are home to the most violent criminals.
I’m not opposed to that idea. Theoretically, having a community jail in your neighborhood should decrease crime in the area with the increased police presence as referenced in the article I posted:
“There can even be perks to having a jail next door, like increased police presence on the street and more activity at night. David Condliffe, executive director of the Center for Community Alternatives and chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Rikers subcommittee, says that one Queens city council member was supportive of the Queens House of Detention potentially reopening because the area around the courthouse “has become a dead zone at night.”
And as for putting them in areas with more crime, well, the assumption is that there will be more inmates from that area so it will be easier for more people to get there. Depends on exactly where it would go of course.
All that said, I get the impression that your intent is not the same as what I posted. It seems like you just don’t want a community jail in your neighborhood because “jail = bad.”
You should move to Rikers Island. You sound just like the Americans who supported Lenin, and the positive changes he brought to Russia. Not that any of them moved to downtown Moscow.
This is a rather odd comment. Last I checked Lenin’s criminal justice reforms comprised of killing his enemies and sending the rest to gulags. So I guess you are in favor of community based jails?
Or we can continue to keep inmates at Riker’s, have a high recidivism rate and create career criminals – all of which anyone with commen sense understands. Great idea.
How did we get from Rikers to a Russian political theorist lmao. Maybe tone it down a notch?
there is a little known “3 strikes” clause in the city charter. If the boro prez, the community board, and the local council member vote no on a land use project it cannot be over ridden by the mayor or the city council….right now the BP and CB 9 votes are just advisory…they need CM Koslowitz to vote “NO” for it to become legally binding
Where is this in the city charter?
This is untrue. Not sure where you came up with that as all those votes are strictly advisory.
And the moronic anti-everything crowd isn’t gonna stop Rikers from being shut down and these new jails from being built. It’s a no-brainer for the city.
We are not ‘Anti-Everything.” We are merely Anti-“Wasting 10 Billion dollars on something that may be totally unnecessary in a few years.” We are also Anti-“Spending $10 Billion on something when there are budget gaps in schools, hospitals and housing.” This $10 Billion dollars could be spent towards affordable housing for our veterans, our seniors, the disabled, those who are on a fixed income who can no longer afford to stay in their community!