Rikers, which has 10,000 beds, is a 400-acre jail complex located on an island in the middle of the East River, between Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. The New York City Council voted Thursday to close the massive Rikers Island jail complex, one of the largest jails in the country, and replace it with four smaller jails across four of the city's boroughs.
"Rikers island is a symbol of brutality and inhumanity and it is time for us to once and for all close Rikers Island." "As a city we must do everything we can to move away from the failed policies of mass incarceration."
Rikers has become infamous for lack of oversight, excessive force and neglect. The jail housed some inmates with short sentences, but mainly served as a holding center for thousands awaiting trial.
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Opponents of closing the jail have worried about housing the inmates in residential neighborhoods. The new jails would only contain a total of 3,300 beds — compared to a current population of roughly 7,200 inmates.
The American Civil Liberties Union also celebrated Thursday's vote, calling it the "start of the long-overdue process."
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