Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed plans Friday to shut down Rikers Island.
Both the mayor and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito are backing a plan to close the city's main detention facility in 10 years.
"Rikers Island is an example and expression of a major national problem," de Blasio said at a Friday afternoon press conference with city officials. "The mass incarceration crisis didn't begin in New York City, but it will end here."
The end of the Depression Era jail, which morphed into a symbol of miscarried justice, is one that is a long time coming for many.
It may not have even happened but for the 2015 suicide of Kalief Browder, who was behind bars for three years without any conviction.
"I appreciate the Speaker's resolve to follow through on her promise to shut down Rikers Island," Paul V. Prestia, an attorney for attorney for Browder's family, said in a statement.
"And while groups like Close Rikers and Shut Down Rikers led the efforts on the ground, this announcement was undoubtedly inspired by Kalief Browder's tragedy," Prestia continued. "It's perhaps the most historic part of his legacy."
"For too long, Rikers Island has stood as a symbol of injustice in our city and as a stain on our criminal justice system," Mark-Viverito said. "Its legacy of systemic violence and abuse has been a blemish on New York City for decades."
The plan is being recommended by an independent panel led by former State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, and it was formed at the request of Mark-Viverito.
The official report is scheduled to be released Sunday.
The commission proposes facilities in each borough.
The City Council will be responsible for placing the inmates in a series of new jails scattered throughout the city.
"People are literally warehoused very far away from their sources of network," the council speaker said.
But bringing those close to home could spark local resistance that de Blasio largely punts, at least to his second term.
"People always have this idea — 'Oh, it's not going to be in my back yard,'" Mark-Viverito said. "These are our neighbors, these are our family members, and we cannot forget that. That conversation always gets me very frustrated."
A continued drop in crime, and reduction of the jail population from around 9,300 to 5,000, is anticipated.
Inmates would be housed at jails like the Brooklyn Correctional Facility and new jails, but it is still to be determined which neighborhoods would house them.
"I only know this: we will need a few more facilities," the mayor said.
But others are frustrated by plans lacking details, including, separately, where new homeless shelters will be built.
"You have 90 homeless shelters. Where are we putting them?" Brooklyn State Sen. Marty Golden said. "Then you have 'Raise the Age,' where you're trying to separate the kids out from the adults. Where are we putting them?"
There would also be fewer correction department jobs, although a city hall source said they would be reduced by attrition.
The proposal calls for cutting the population at Rikers by allowing inmates to return to society under supervised release.
De Blasio says that in order to make it work, the jail population would have to be cut in half.
Rikers currently houses around 10,000 inmates. About 80 percent are awaiting trial.
Earlier Friday on his weekly radio show interview, the mayor said he was focused on making reforms that would help boost the safety of the inmates and officers currently at Rikers.
"Whatever is going to happen to the future of Rikers Island and our whole jail system beyond Rikers Island," de Blasio said on WNYC. "We have a lot to fix right now.
"So we're focusing right now on additional reforms to keep everyone in our jail system safer — the inmates and the offices alike — and to prepare our inmates to come out of jail, and not end up on the wrong side of the law, and actually get to a positive productive life," the mayor continued.
Sources say Rikers could eventually become an extension of LaGuardia Airport that would include a third runway.