The Rikers Island jail complex. Photo Credit: Tim Bodenberg

The New York City government has unveiled its proposals for new jails based in four of the city’s five boroughs to take the place of the sprawling detention facilities on Rikers Island, which since last year has been in the process of closing down.

The city is proposing to build the new jails, at 320 Concord Ave. in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx; at 275 Atlantic Ave. in downtown Brooklyn; at 80 Centre St. in Manhattan; and at 126-02 82nd Ave. in Kew Gardens, Queens.  

Except for the proposed jail for the Bronx, each of the proposed locations would be located within a few blocks of courthouses. Staten Island was spared from receiving a new jail facility.

City officials said the new jail facilities will house 1,500 beds and be integrated into their surrounding neighborhoods—complete with community centers, ground-floor retail and parking facilities.

“Though preliminary, these plans show a real commitment to providing safety and dignity to those who work in city jails, those who are detained and those who are visiting loved ones behind bars,” said Jonathan Lippman, the former chief judge of the state Court of Appeals and the chair of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, which last year recommended the gradual closure of Rikers.

The proposed jails will need to be approved through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), a sometimes-contentious process that includes hearings and recommendations from local community boards, borough presidents, the City Council and the City Planning Commission.  

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced a plan to consolidate the ULURP for the four proposed sites into a single process.  

In a news release, the City Council members who represent the areas where the new jails would be built each expressed support for the proposals.

“Rikers must close,” said Councilman Stephen Levin, who represents downtown Brooklyn. “It has fallen short on safety, severs familial and social ties and its outdated design and remote location work against our commitment to justice and fairness for all New Yorkers. We have an opportunity to create more just, better integrated, and safer facilities close to courts, community services and transportation.”