The closure of the Rikers Island municipal jail, considered one of the most dangerous in the country, has now again faced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats seeking reelection this year.
According to Cuomo, charges filed by the Bronx Prosecutor’s Office on 29 inmates for assault on other prisoners and security guards Wednesday are proof that the jail must be closed “immediately” and not in ten years, as De Blasio.
“Rikers is a wild, inhuman prison that has ruined the lives of many New Yorkers. Most of its 7,000 prisoners have not been found guilty of anything and are simply waiting for their court day, some, for years,” said Cuomo through Of his adviser Alphonso David, in a statement.
The letter also recalled that this year the state legislature approved that the 16 and 17 year olds who are in Rikers should be removed from there and relocated.
The mayor’s response did not wait, and hours later, De Blasio lashed out at Cuomo through his press spokesman, Eric Phillip, and noted that when the current governor took over as attorney general he kept silent about Rikers.
In addition, he accused Cuomo of running a prison system deteriorated by abuse, neglect and leakage, “responsible for many prisoners being there for a long time.”
“His new concern is welcome, but unless he is willing to reform his besieged system of prisons and courts, it is impossible to see his outburst as anything other than a political theater,” he added.
Last April De Blasio announced that Rikers’ complex of prisons, target of criticism for violence, mistreatment or corruption would be closed in a process that could take up to ten years.