Chinatown Could See Influx of 1,500 Rikers Inmates
Last month, Mayor de Blasio announced that his administration is proceeding with the closure of Rikers Island. Inmates will instead be relocated to four community-based facilities across the boroughs, clearing the way to shut the jail. One of which is located in Chinatown, which has many in the community up in arms.
Rumor has it that more than 1,500 inmates are expected to occupy the detention center at 125 White Street. The facility currently holds approximately 700 people, so would likely need retrofitting to accommodate the additional prisoners. To put it mildly, the neighbors are not pleased at this near doubling of capacity.
Concerns focus on the impacts of overcrowding on the neighborhood. The jail is not only stocked, but the surrounding area would need to accommodate the influx of hundreds of support staff (e.g. corrections officers, kitchen, maintenance), visitors, and the cars that drive them. Not to mention the competition for curbside parking.
“This would create a nightmare for Chinatown and other surrounding neighborhoods,” local activist Karlin Chan tells us. “Our streets are already congested enough seven days a week with major thoroughfares to Holland tunnel, Manhattan, and Brooklyn Bridges.”
The three other proposed locations are the Brooklyn Detention Center at 275 Atlantic Avenue, the Queens Detention Center at 126-01 82nd Avenue, and the NYPD Tow Pound at 320 Concord Avenue in the Bronx.
The mayor’s proposal will undergo a rigorous public review process that includes hearings and recommendations by local community boards, borough presidents, and the City Planning Commission. Hizzoner’s goal is to decrease the daily incarcerated population at the combined facilities from 9,000 inmates to 5,000 inmates.
But the Chinatown community appears ready to fight the plan. “It’ll be a long hard uphill battle but it’s one our neighborhoods have to wage,” Chan further noted.