Mayor unveils plans for Kew Gardens jail
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Aug 21, 2018 | 8719 views | 0 0 comments | 212 212 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PHOTO: MAYOR'S OFFICE
PHOTO: MAYOR'S OFFICE
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Last week, the de Blasio administration announced four new borough-based jails that would replace the current detention facilities on Rikers Island, including one in Kew Gardens.

The new jail will be located at 126-02 82nd Avenue, the site of the former Queens Detention Complex and parking lot, near the Queens Criminal Courthouse.

Plans are to expand the current building from 497,600 square feet to nearly 2 million square feet to accommodate hold 1,510 beds.

Currently, the city’s jail population is about 8,200, a 13 percent decrease from last year, but the city is aiming to reduce the average daily jail population to 7,000 people over the next five years.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the total number of people in custody to 5,000 on any given day. The proposed four community jails combined would be able to hold 6,000 people.

The three other sites being considered are 275 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, 320 Concord Avenue in the Bronx, and 80 Centre Street in Manhattan.

“We’re taking a big step forward in the process of closing Rikers Island and creating a modern community-based jail system that is smaller, safer and fairer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Now we can move full steam ahead on the engagement and planning for our new facilities so we can close Rikers as fast as possible.”

The mayor also touted programs that are driving down the jail population, including a citywide alternative-to-bail program that allows eligible people to remain in the community while waiting for trial, as well as a program that replaces short jail sentences for low-level offenses with services aimed at preventing future offenses.

Each community jail will have community space and ground-floor retail, as well as on-site support services. In Kew Gardens, there will be a centralized infirmary and maternity services.

Shanduke Mcphatter, founder of Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes, said it’s time to close the Rikers chapter of the city’s history and learn to address crime differently.

“Implementing borough-based detention facilities is a good start while we all continue to work to eradicate mass incarceration,” said Mcphatter. “It’s not about how many people a jail can hold, it’s about how many people we can keep from going to jail.”

Neighborhood advisory boards consisting of local elected officials and community leaders will provide feedback on integration, programs and quality-of-life issues.

“Closing Rikers Island and opening community based facilities is not only beneficial for Corrections officers and the incarcerated population, but also beneficial for the Kew Gardens community,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz. “The new facility in Kew Gardens will bring significant economic development and provide hundreds of new parking spaces for the community.”

A scoping meeting will held by the Department of Corrections on Wednesday, September 26, at 6 p.m. at Borough Hall. Residents can also submit feedback at via email at boroughplan@doc.nyc.gov by October 15.

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