No More Rikers Island, NYC Turning Jail Into A Public Space By 2026

People walk by a sign at the entrance to Rikers Island on March 31

Photo credit – Spencer Platt/Getty Images

NYC is making a major change to how they house inmates. 

For 27 years, Rikers Island has been used to place some of the most notorious criminals, but now the city wants to turn it into a public space. 

Reported on NYDN, the city has taken the first step to making that possible. The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Department of Correction and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson filed a land-use application to get the plan in motion. 

The city wants to transfer all of the Riker’s Island inmates into four facilities by 2026. Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Elizabeth Glazer said this transition is another step closer to building a safer and fairer justice system. 

“New Yorkers are witnessing proof of how our city is turning from a model of safety that relied primarily on enforcement and incarceration to one that relies on building on community strength and partnership.”

Councilman Keith Powers, chair of the City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee also said closing Riker’s Island is an “opportunity to overhaul our criminal justice system.”

“Guaranteeing that this land can never again be used to operate a jail is a significant and binding step in that plan.”

Prior to 1992, Riker’s Island was used as a juvenile detention center. It’s not clear what the city wants to do with the “public space,” but we’ll keep you updated!