Brooklyn Boro

Lippman: We are one step closer to closing Rikers after City Planning Commission’s approval

September 3, 2019 Rob Abruzzese
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After the New York City Planning Commission officially approved the plan to close Rikers Island and build four borough-based jails in its place, former Chief Judge of New York State Jonathan Lippman issued a statement that praised the commission’s decision.

“With today’s approval by the City Planning Commission of the city’s plan to establish smaller, borough-based jails, we are one step closer to shuttering the jails on Rikers once and for all,” Justice Lippman said. “Just three years ago, the prospect of closing Rikers seemed nearly impossible. With the momentum generated by advocates and those who have experienced firsthand the horrors on Rikers, and the blueprint we developed in A More Just NYC, we are closer than ever before.

“The City Council will now deliberate on the city’s proposal and I am hopeful that they will work to make this plan the best that it can be for those inside and outside of the facilities,” said Lippman, chair of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. “We have a once-in-generations opportunity to shut the door on a dark chapter in our city’s history and open a new one in which our justice system can serve not only as a beacon of fairness for New York, but for our whole country.”

Hon. Matthew D’Emic, administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term, will be one of the people who will testify at Thursday’s hearing on Rikers Island hosted by the City Council Land Use Committee.

The CPC’s approval is a binding vote and it marks the beginning of the final stage of the ULURP process. City Council’s Land Use Committee will host a hearing on Thursday, Sept. 5, at which Lippman will testify in public in support of the borough-based jails. Justice Matthew D’Emic, administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term, will also testify at Thursday’s hearing along with Herbert Sturtz, Stanley Richards and Seymour James.

The plan, which is expected to cost approximately $11 billion and to be completed somewhere between 2026 and 2027, would replace the Rikers Island facility with four borough-based jails in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. The CPC voted 9-to-3 in favor of the plan that was rejected by the four community boards representing the areas where the jails would be located, and three borough presidents.

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