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Will Rikers Island Close?

April 14, 2017, on Criminal Defense Articles |

When you have been accused of violating the law, one of the big reasons it is so important to work with skilled Albany criminal defense attorneys is because conviction for many criminal offenses could potentially result in you being forced to serve jail time. Incarceration can take you away from your work and family. This is not the worst part about being in jail, though, Tragically, conditions in many jails are sub-par and the rights of people who are incarcerated are not being protected as they should be.

Rikers Island is one of the most notorious of jails because the facility does such a poor job of protecting the rights of inmates. There has been an ongoing effort to close Rikers Island and the New York Times reports that the effort may finally pay off and the jail may actually close.

The Ongoing Effort to Close the Jail

Rikers Island has been the subject of numerous federal investigations into conditions at the notorious jail. Because of the brutality in Rikers and the fact that inmates are not protected from unsafe conditions, there have also been numerous protests against Rikers. The jail has such a bad reputation for the way it treats prisoners that the New York Times indicates Rikers has “become a byword for brutality.”

Despite the fact that the prison is a terrible place that is not living up to its obligations to those who are incarcerated, closing the jail is difficult. Closing Rikers was once thought to be practically impossible and politically unfeasible, but now there is a strong political push to shut the jail down -- a push that is supported by Mayor de Blasio. The speaker of the City Council, who has been trying to convince Mayor de Blasio to take concrete action to begin closing Rikers, was instrumental in helping to persuade the mayor that closure may be the best course of action.

The campaign to close the doors of Rikers forever also got a boost from a 97-page report that was released by an independent commission. The commission recommended that the jails on Rikers be replaced by smaller jails based in different boroughs throughout the city. The cost of opening smaller jails to be used instead of Rikers was projected to be around $10.6 billion.

After the release of the report, Mr. de Blasio commented in a speech that the process would take some time. Unless conditions in the court system improve, it could take more than a decade in order to be able to close Rikers successfully.

However, the goal is to have the jail closed within 10 years, if the right conditions are met. Those conditions include reducing the number of people who must be cycled through the city jail system to less than 5,000. This would be a low enough number that the inmates who are currently housed on the 400-acres of Rikers Island could be moved to other jails.

Although it is good news that there is at least a serious effort to close Rikers, it is bad news that this process is projected to take so long and the future is still so uncertain. If you are at risk of being jailed on Rikers Island (or elsewhere in the state), you need to do everything you can to aggressively fight the charges to try to stay out of the jail. The criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC will help you put together the strongest possible defense -- contact us today.

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