On Friday during a City Hall news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed that he would shut down Riker’s Island.
“New York City will close the Rikers Island jail facility,” de Blasio declared. “It will take many years, it will take many tough decisions along the way. But it will happen.”
However, the mayor did not go so far as to say that he would be following the recent blue ribbon findings suggesting that a new prison should be built in each of the five boroughs. The report, headed by New York state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, was reportedly supposed to be released on Sunday but was reported on by the New York Post, which, according to sources at City Hall, spurred the mayor into action.
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“I’m working from a neutral position of saying I only know this: We will need a few more facilities,” de Blasio said. “There’s no assumption on the number or location or how many.”
This is a huge turn from his position on the matter just last year, in which he said that the idea of closing the prison was a “noble concept” but ultimately rejected the idea because he said that “it would cost many billions of dollars — and I have to look out for what’s feasible, and I have to look out for the taxpayer.”