New York City proposes building new jails with more ‘welcoming’ experience


The four jails that New York City wants to build to replace its Rikers Island facility will have cells with natural sunlight, space for programming and a children’s play area, officials said Wednesday.

During a public hearing on Wednesday, city officials presented design highlights of the four proposed jails to the City Planning Commission as a part of the next phase of the project’s approval process. The new jails, which would be built in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, are a part of a larger plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to close all of the jail facilities on Rikers Island by 2026. The city has allocated $8.7 billion for the project.

New York City officials have proposed four new jails that will serve as an alternative to the jail facilities on Rikers Island. 
(Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice)

The City Planning Commission will vote on the proposal later this summer. If approved, the proposal would head to the New York City Council for a vote.

Cynthia Brann, commissioner of the Department of Correction, displayed a rendering of the facilities that showed a large dayroom surrounded by jail cells, all bathed in sunlight. She said inmates would also have direct access to outdoor recreation spaces.

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“Our current facilities are designed for a different era of corrections,” Ms. Brann said. “Modern jails have all of these designs in them, and that is what we are going forward with.”

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The jails will provide visitors with a more “welcoming” experience, said Ms. Brann. The lobby would have information desks and kiosks, a place to pay bail and an area for children to play while waiting to visit inmates.

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