For years, advocates have been pushing to close Rikers Island. Now, it will finally happen. However, there are some folks wondering what the real agenda of the prison closing.
Back in March of 2017, New York City mayor and failed presidential candidate Bill de Blasio wrote on Twitter, “New York City will close the Rikers Island jail facility. It will take many years. It will take many tough decisions. But it will happen.”
Now, CNN reports, the New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to close the jail. Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, Today is a day that the history books will look back on as a good day for New York City. This is a step forward, this is progress, this is the right thing to do.”
However, some believe that closing the facility doesn’t address the real issue. Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel, a Democrat representing Brooklyn, stated, “I come from a world of trips to Rikers, of going up north to visit family members. We as a body, for a plan of this magnitude, addressing a system of racism and mass-incarceration — this process has been inappropriately rushed.”
She continued, “That means we spend a million dollars a year on average in New York City and in the state incarcerating my constituents on just one block. Their circumstances are my concerns, and this process did not address the circumstances that lead them to Rikers Island.”
There are people who are concerned that closing the jail is only about gentrifying that area of New York City. Writer Jordan Uhl wrote, “If Rikers actually does close, what are the odds some development company tries to gentrify it and turn the cells into luxury apartments?”
Another user tweeted, “The only real reason Rikers is closing is that real estate developers gave a nod to NYC elected Muppets to close it so they can build many more expensive condos.”
Writer Thom Dunn posed the question, “So how much do we think the inevitable Rikers Island Luxury Condos are gonna go for?”
The skepticism is warranted considering how gentrification has gutted New York City and many cities across the country.
There is no word on when exactly the dilapidated jail complex will officially close, which entered the national spotlight again after the June 2015 suicide of 22-year-old Kalief Browder.