City says fewer suspects from Brooklyn housed in jails

Admissions are down 31 percent since 2013

January 22, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In a June 20, 2014, file photo, the Rikers Island jail complex stands in New York. The de Blasio Administration announced that the city’s jails have fewer inmates from Brooklyn. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File
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A recent announcement from Mayor Bill de Blasio about the decrease in the inmate population in city jails also had notable information pertaining to Brooklyn’s contribution to the downward trend, according to officials who crunched the numbers and found some interesting results.

In December, de Blasio announced that the population in New York City’s jails has fallen to historic low levels. 

But there are also fewer suspects from Brooklyn being incarcerated in city jails, according to the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, which reported last week that there were 11,812 admissions from the borough into jails in 2017.

That’s a 10 percent decrease from 2016, when 13,141 inmates from Brooklyn were admitted to city jails.

Since 2013, there has been a 31 percent drop in the number of inmates from Brooklyn. That year, 17,156 inmates from Brooklyn were incarcerated.

The de Blasio administration pointed to a number of factors responsible for the sharp decrease in prisoners from Brooklyn, including the success of programs designed to help at-risk residents.

“This has coincided with a number of interventions launched by the city to prevent low risk people from entering jail, such as supervised release which has had more than 2,000 participants from Brooklyn,” an official told the Brooklyn Eagle via email.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said his office is fully on board with the city’s efforts to decrease the jail population. 

“Decreasing the reliance on incarceration has been one of my main goals and we are doing our part in Brooklyn to achieve it. The new bail policy we put in place this year, under which we consent to release in most misdemeanors, has reduced the number of people in pretrial detention,” Gonzalez said in a statement. 

Gonzalez also pointed to another program, Our Young Adult Court, which gives defendants between the ages of 16 to 24 the chance to avoid incarceration. “I am also exploring additional innovative ways to safely divert other eligible individuals, including those suffering from addiction, who in many cases will be offered treatment in lieu of prosecution,” Gonzalez stated.

Last month, de Blasio touted the reduction in the inmate population as a significant step in his efforts to reform the criminal justice system.

“Today, New York City has the lowest incarceration rate of all large U.S. cities and crime rates continue to fall, proving that a large city can have small jails and safe communities. We’ve been carrying out a multi-pronged effort over the course of my first term to shrink our jail population, and today we see the results: a jail population lower than it’s been in 35 years,” the mayor said in a statement.

Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, said the effort has a two-pronged approach, “The historic reduction of the jail population is the result of many simultaneous efforts aimed at both reducing the number of low risk people who enter our jails and shortening the length of stay,” she said.

The city is on track to fulfill de Blasio’s goal of closing Rikers Island, according to Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann. “This is a great step forward in our efforts to reduce population and close Rikers Island. We’re well on our way towards moving into smaller, borough-based facilities that will be safer, easier for visitors to access, and save the city millions in transportation and upkeep costs,” she said. 

In March 2017, de Blasio announced a plan to close Rikers Island and replace it with smaller jails in each of the five boroughs. But in order to achieving that goal, the city would have to reduce the population at Rikers Island to a level below 5,000, the mayor said at the time. 

The current numbers are impressive, according to Assemblymember Latrice Walker (D-Brownsville), who called the latest figure “a significant milestone in the journey to decrease mass incarceration and to eventually close Rikers Island.”

The reduction in the city’s jail population “is a positive reflection of our law enforcement and our judiciary system,” Walker said.

“There is immense work yet to be done to revolutionize our criminal justice system, but it is critical to acknowledge and celebrate the gains we are making. This is a milestone worthy of recognition, and evidence that the broad reforms we have fought for are having a measurable impact on our incarcerated population, Councilmember Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush) said in a statement.


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