Boerum Hill

Jail fail: Boerum Hill board demands smaller scale

June 13, 2019 Noah Goldberg
A rendering by the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) of the new Brooklyn Detention Complex. Rendering courtesy of MOCJ.

Brooklyn Community Board 2 voted against the city’s plan to rebuild and expand the Brooklyn Detention Complex Wednesday — and set out a laundry list of recommendations that, if implemented by the city, would get the board’s support.

While the vote is advisory, it represents another community-level blow to the city’s plan — which has yet to find support from a community board. Manhattan Community Board 1 voted against the plan with recommendations, and Queens Community Board 9 unanimously rejected the plan, as did Bronx Community Board 1.

After a contentious meeting last month where CB2 voted to give no recommendation on the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application, the board’s land use committee went back to the drawing board, creating a new recommendation against the city’s plan to build four borough-based jails — including a Boerum Hill facility — and close the jail complex at Rikers Island by 2026.

Board members passed the recommendation opposing the application with a vote of 34 in favor and two against, with four abstentions. The board’s vote is purely advisory, and the city’s application is currently before Borough President Eric Adams, who hosted a public hearing on the city’s proposal last week.

“The land use committee has recommended that we do not agree with the ULURP application that was given to us from the city,” said Carlton Gordon, chair of CB2’s land use committee. But Gordon said the committee would accept the application if the city followed a number of conditions.

The board recommended a building that fit no more than 875 beds — a sharp decrease from the city’s current proposal of a 395-foot, 1,437-bed jail at 275 Atlantic Ave.

Gordon also said the board would like the city to take into account reductions in the incarcerated population based on bail reform passed in Albany in April. (The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice has said they are taking criminal justice reforms into account, and plan on further reducing the size of the borough-based jail proposals, though it is not clear whether they will reduce Brooklyn’s proposed jail to 875 beds.)

The board also asked the city to move people with a “psychiatric diagnosis and substance abuse conditions” out of jails and into therapeutic environments, demanded the city build a new jail on Staten Island (the only borough in the city without a jail in the city’s current plan), and expand alternative sentencing programs. They also asked for a new training facility for correction officers that would “improve the culture” of the Department of Correction.

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