NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that he will visit Rikers Island next week.
This comes after weeks of demands by people for the mayor to visit Rikers amid a growing crisis at the jails complex.
The mayor has not visited the island since 2017 and has said his focus over the past two weeks has been on finding solutions to the issues, including shortening intake time for new inmates and sanctions against corrections officers who go AWOL.
But on Friday during an appearance on WNYC, he said that he will be visiting the facilities next week.
“I think it’s time because we’ve been able to address a number of issues and I want to see if these solutions are working or whatever other things we have to do,” said the mayor.
His trip announcement comes after eight Congressional Democrats from the state called on President Biden to intervene and for the Justice Department to launch a civil rights probe into the troubled jails complex.
A federal monitor has also called for outside help to oversee security at Rikers. A judge was scheduled to hold an emergency hearing about the situation on Friday morning.
The office of state Attorney General Letitia James filed an amicus brief about that hearing Friday, siding with the plaintiffs and asking for the court to "issue all appropriate remedial orders to address the conditions at Rikers for corrections officers, staff and incarcerated individuals."
"These tragic occurrences suggest the need for swift remedial action to improve security, access to medical care, and adequate working and living conditions for everyone at Rikers and VCBC, even as our investigations are ongoing," the amicus brief reads. "The accounts of chaos, dysfunction, and violence that have been reported by incarcerated individuals and correctional staff are deeply disturbing."
The mayor did not reveal what date next week he will visit the island, but said he will be accompanied by First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan and Department of Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi.
Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee to succeed de Blasio, said at an unrelated event that he encourages every official to tour Rikers. He said the mayor should do visit immediately.
“He should do a walkthrough, and he should walk through with his chancellor to see what a failing educational system will produce,” Adams said. “He should walk in with HRA, he should walk in with HBD, he should bring all of his top commissioners and deputy mayors to walk through and say, ‘Look what failed policies have produced in our city for decades.’ Because those men and women on Rikers Island is an indictment on our city, not in this administration only, but in every administration.”
Additional reporting by Emily Ngo and Gloria Pazmino.