Statement from NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on the Plan to Close Rikers Island
March 31, 2017
“For decades, society built bigger jails instead of better schools, as America tried to be ‘tough on crime’ instead of smart on crime. The result of our backward approach relegated communities of color – often poor – to an unrelenting cycle of crime and poverty. It’s affected a generation of Americans and New Yorkers.
“Rikers is a symbol of an antiquated approach. Today’s announcement is an important one, because we must be a society that gives people second chances. To do that, Rikers must shut down. The Mayor has done the right thing – and we celebrate it.
“Advocates like JustLeadershipUSA, Glenn Martin, and others have been at the forefront of this fight, and this is a big step forward. This isn’t just about lowering recidivism or driving down crime. This is about who we are – and who we strive to be – as a city. Today is an important day.
“My office will continue to encourage real community engagement in the planning process and will continue to monitor the conditions on Rikers Island to ensure the safety and effective rehabilitation of all who pass through our criminal justice system.”
In November 2015, Comptroller Stringer became the first citywide elected official to call for the closure of Rikers Island, calling it an “urban shame” in a speech at The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School. Since taking office, Comptroller Stringer has analyzed claims against the Department of Correction, tracked violence in City jails, and audited educational services on Rikers Island.