Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams Has Some Interesting Ideas to Reform Jail in Brooklyn

Photo by Craig Hubert

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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police officer, weighed in Tuesday on de Blasio’s proposal to rebuild the Brooklyn House of Detention in Boerum Hill as part of a sweeping city-wide reform of Rikers Island. His verdict: He disapproved with conditions — and there are some pretty major conditions.

He’s asking for the new facility to contain 900 beds, up from its current 800, and a far cry from the city’s proposed 1,510. What’s more, Adams wants to cap the height of the new jail at 235 feet — or about half the 40-story, 395-foot-tall tower the city wants to build. The jail is currently 11 stories high.

Most interesting, he says the city should not issue a certificate of occupancy for the new jail until “comparable capacity” at Rikers Island has been demolished.

Adams also proposes the city create a community advisory committee, that the jail have only community facilities (no retail) at its base, that construction includes elements of passive house design and other environment features, and that State Street between Boerum Place and Smith Street be turned into a pedestrian plaza.

The recommendation “balances the needs of the community with the imperative of making our criminal justice system more humane for all, something all sides have agreed is critical,” said Adams in a prepared statement. “What we are proposing advances the City’s goal of closing Rikers while providing real benefits to the surrounding community. Most importantly, it offers a roadmap for ending the cycle of incarceration that plagues our underinvested communities. We urge the city to adopt these recommendations, and to work in close consultation with the community, so we can move forward in a responsible way.”

When Community Board 2 considered the proposal earlier this year, they also rejected it.

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