Boerum Hill

LISTEN: Where do we stand on the Brooklyn jail plan?

July 18, 2019 By Scott Enman, Paul Frangipane, Lawrence Madsen
The Brooklyn Detention Center. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese
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The city’s current plan for the Brooklyn House of Detention at 275 Atlantic Ave. would more than double its current size to 395 feet with 1,150 beds.

After holding several public hearings, Community Board 2, which includes Boerum Hill, voted no on the city’s plan. The board instead recommended a smaller jail that houses only 875 beds, expanded alternative sentencing programs and for psychiatric diagnoses to be moved out of jails and into therapeutic environments.

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“It’s very hard to separate the building, which is what the land use applications are about, from the program, which is that it’s a jail,” CB2 District Manager Robert Perris told Brooklyn This Week.

He added that the board was influenced by the group No New Jails, when the organization argued that the money planned to be spent on opening jails, should be put into the city’s communities instead.

“We want to close Rikers and we don’t want any new jails,” said Kei Williams, an organizer with the group. “We want that money, that $11 billion to be reinvested into the community to actually create true safety and true infrastructure that prevents the reasons why people are incarcerated in the first place.”

As the process leaves its advisory stage, Councilmember Stephen Levin, who represents the area, has the crucial role of approving the jail renovation. 

Levin said he supports a new jail at the location, and expects to work with the mayor’s office on the final iteration of the plan.

“There are things we can do now that will reduce the jail population in the years to come. I believe in that,” he said. “But I think that we, over the next couple of months, have to really dig in and see what that actually means in terms of beds and square footage.”

  • Interview with Noah Goldberg at 1:08
  • Interview with Robert Perris at 5:46
  • Interview with Kei Williams at 8:58
  • Interview with Brandon Holmes at 10:20
  • Interview with Stephen Levin at 12:58

Brooklyn this Week‘s host Lawrence Madsen is a native New Yorker. He graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in History, and volunteers with the disaster relief group Team Rubicon.

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