State may intervene to close Rikers Island sooner than city’s timeline

A new report issued by the Commission of Correction details worsening conditions at the island prison

The de Blasio administration has already picked an architecture firm to study alternatives to Rikers, as part of its goal to shutdown the island prison in 10 years, but will the state make a move to shut it down sooner?

The New York Times got its hands on a report published by the The Commission of Correction, a state body that oversees New York City’s jails. The report details how in many cases the conditions worsened at Rikers from 2016 to 2017. This report will be presented to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature, according to the Times.

For instance, serious incidents like fire, gang assault, and the admission of an inmate to a hospital all increased in that year. Inmate assaults and violence between inmates and staff at Rikers was also significantly higher than other county jails in the state, according to the report. Rikers was identified as one of the five worst prisons in the state.

As things stand right now, the Commission of Correction could issue a citation to the city, according to the Times. It would then hold a public hearing, and if the city was unable to show that it was improving conditions at Rikers, the state could move to shut it down, though as the Times points out, this could take a while considering the island prison’s massive population.

This now is the latest squabble between the Cuomo administration and the de Blasio administration over what seem to be semantics. The Times described it very succinctly saying it “was the latest example of the strange intraparty tug of war between Mr. Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, New York City’s mayor. The two Democrats largely agree on policy issues but nonetheless fight over nearly every detail — especially the matter of who lays claim to owning the issue.”

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