Is Rikers Ready?

The Story

Mayor de Blasio has promised eventually to close Rikers Island, where New York City maintains its complex of municipal jails. The mayor set a 10-year time frame for moving inmates off the island, contingent on the construction of new, borough-based facilities and an approximately 50 percent reduction of the jail population. Advocates and some public officials are demanding an accelerated schedule, but their aggressive approach ignores stubborn facts about incarcerating dangerous criminals.  

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Cohort: The blue-ribbon Lippman Commission recommends extending “supervised release” to suspects under age 24 who have been arrested for violent felonies – but this is the demographic that commits the preponderance of violent crime. Read more.

  2. Demographics: Advocates says the population of Rikers is disproportionately black and Latino because of racist policing practices, but the city’s population of criminal suspects is also disproportionately black and Latino. Read more.

  3. Deterrent: Advocates demand that short sentences be eliminated, but the point of short sentences is to deter criminality. Read more.

“The challenges of running jails exceed anything that the academic world — and most of us — can begin to understand.”

Heather Mac Donald, Manhattan Institute Thomas W. Smith fellow

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

How to Straighten Out Ex-Cons By Heather Mac Donald (Spring 2003)

“It’s time to hold wardens and parole officers accountable for cutting recidivism.”

And in other news...

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Wednesday that will require judges to award attorneys’ fees to litigants who ‘substantially prevail’ in Freedom of Information Law cases.”