Letter to the Editor: House of Detention
I read with interest Raanan Geberer’s article about the reopening of the Brooklyn House of Detention on Atlantic Avenue. A similar article by Erin Durkin appeared recently in the New York Daily News. I thought both articles were excellent in reviewing the current issues pertaining to the reopening of the jail.
The jail was closed in 2003 for renovations and repairs and expansion. It is certainly true that the immediate area near the jail has become more residential since 2003, so I feel an appropriate compromise was reached when the city agreed to cancel the expansion plans in 2010 and just reopen the refurbished jail this year.
As mentioned in the two articles: in the past, visitors to the jail would often ditch contraband in the street or shrubbery, vehicles would park in bus stops or sidewalks, and the small waiting area caused visitors to wait outside to visit inmates. It appears that these problems are being addressed, as mentioned in Geberer’s article (expanded waiting area, new “stop-and-frisk laws,” and the forming of a community advisory committee).
Durkin’s article indicated that neighbors had “fiercely battled the city’s plan to reopen” and “they’re not thrilled about the reopening with the upcoming influx of inmates into the neighborhood.” Frankly, I could never understand why the jail’s reopening had even been opposed by residents and politicians and had been an issue in the first place since 2003 when the jail closed for repairs. I think the jail had every right to reopen, based on the fact that they have been there since the 1950s. You can not exactly call the jail a neighborhood interloper.
You would think that the jail has the right to close for a few years and make necessary repairs and then reopen at the same location where it has been for a half century. Naturally, no one is happy to have a jail in a residential neighborhood. But after all, the jail was built on Atlantic Avenue so that it would be next door to the Criminal Court Building. I understand an underground tunnel now connects the two buildings so that prisoners can be easily transported to the court for hearings, trials, etc.
Based on the efforts that are now underway, I think we can be hopeful that things can be worked out so that the jail becomes “a good neighbor.”
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