2016-07-27 / Front Page

Move To Shift Teens Out Of Rikers Island

By Liz Goff
Under a plan announced last week by the deBlasio administration, the city’s youngest inmates would soon be packing their bags and heading to a new facility in the Brons.

The plan, sporting a pricetag of more than $300 million, would place 16-and 17-year-old inmates in a facility that offers services suitable to their needs, including classroom space and one-on-one counseling, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill deBlasio said.

The project would take four years to complete and would house youthful offenders in the Horizon Complex in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, in a building that is currently being used by the city Administration for Children’s Services.

Plans for the building would have to be approved through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP,), which requires approval by the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

If approved, the plan would place teens outside Rikers Island for the first time in more than 60 years.

Under the plan, more than 188 teens currently housed in city jails would be moved to the new facility.

A spokesperson for the union representing correction officers last week said the plan does nothing to differentiate between violent and nonviolent inmates. By moving the teens to a new facility in the Bronx, the city would only be “shifting the problem from one place to another,” the union spokesperson said. The city needs to develop a plan to deal with the most violent offenders, not just moving them from Rikers to another facility, the spokesperson said.

Rikers Island is located in the Bronx, but the only bridge leading in and out of the facility is located on Hazen Street and 19th Avenue in Astoria, making the 114th Precinct, Astoria firehouses, Emergency Medical Response Teams and Community Board 1 in Astoria responsible for maintaining quality of life conditions stemming from the island jail.

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