New York City lawmakers have approved a plan to close the notorious Rikers Island jail complex and replace it with four smaller jails.
The City Council voted Thursday to build the new jails and close Rikers by 2016.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called Rikers Island “a symbol of brutality and inhumanity.” He said the city must move away from “The failed policies of mass incarceration.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and other Democrats support the plan. They say falling crime rates and criminal justice reforms mean the city will only need cells for about 3,300 prisoners per day by 2026.
That’s less than half the 7,000 prisoners now housed daily in city jails, and way down from the 22,000 incarcerated in 1991.