In its quest to reform its controversial Rikers Island jail facility, New York City has made sure to implement policies that benefit the jail’s youth population. Some improvements young inmates have seen are allowances for good behavior and the ban of solitary confinement for youth inmates. Now, the city is looking to put a $300 million plan into action that will move the locked up youth–aged 16 and 17–to a new facility in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Mayor Bill de Blasio says that the plan is to improve access to treatment programs for juvenile inmates. “When you’re a teenager in trouble with the law, it’s not too late to get on the right path — and we need to provide the right environment to help that happen,” said the mayor. “That’s why providing therapeutic, age-appropriate housing for adolescents waiting for trial is one of our chief priorities, and today we’re proud to announce we’re taking a clear step toward moving 16 and 17-year-olds off of Rikers. We’ll be working with the community and elected officials on this important effort every step of the way.”
The plan — which is expected take at least four years after going through the city’s arduous land use approval process — would move the juveniles to the currently ACS-run Horizon Juvenile Center at 560 Brook Ave. in Melrose…
…Horizon would provide programs like job development, therapy and larger, renovated classrooms, according to the mayor’s office.
There are currently 188 juveniles between 16 and 17 years old on Rikers Island.
By the time the new facility is finished the city expects there to be about 130 youth who need to be housed.
The plan would also renovate the Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn to house all adolescents younger than 16 who are in ACS custody.
The Horizon facility will also include a wing for youths who have been convicted of lesser offenses, to keep them separate from those who have committed more serious crimes.
The only drawback is that moving the kids to Brownsville will make it harder for some parents/loved ones to make it out to visit their child. However, officials like Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. believe the move is necessary. “I went to visit Rikers last week. I visited the adolescents,” said the councilman. “They’re living in horrible conditions, horrendous conditions, and I totally agree that we need to figure out a way to get these 16- and 17-year-olds out of Rikers.”