Just two days before the City Council is expected to take a final vote to approve Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to build smaller jails around the city and close Rikers by 2026, two announcements were made:
A promise to lower the height of the proposed jail facilities was made by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Tuesday.
The mayor announced a commitment to pump $19 million into an expansion of the city's jail-to-jobs program.
"We're going to get off Rikers once and for all," de Blasio said a news conference. "We're going to have borough-based facilities once and for all."
Although the plan is unlikely to fail, there are still members who are opposed to it. The plan needs 26 votes to pass.
A survey of every member of the council showed:
- Fifteen remain undecided
- Twenty-one are in favor
- Ten will vote against the plan
Five members did not return NY1's call Tuesday.
"We have districts in Brooklyn that have been affected by incarceration in a significant way, and we need to talk about what we're doing to restore justice in those areas," Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso said.
The "no" votes include three factions:
- Lawmakers opposed to building jails in their communities
- Those who feel there isn't enough investment in alternatives to incarceration
- Left-wing Democrats who've joined the "No New Jails" coalition and now oppose the creation of any detention facilities anywhere in the city.
"I would be very uncomfortable to even vote 'yes' for a plan I have not even really been a part of … There's too much at stake. We need funding for cure-violence programs," Democratic Brooklyn Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel said. "It's really been about the council members who represent the buildings, as opposed to the council members who represent the people who are in these buildings."
Members of the Brooklyn and Bronx delegations remain split. Councilman Rafael Salamanca, whom chairs the council's Land Use Committee, would not say if he backs the proposal. Members in the Bronx have been at odds over the proposed jail location.
"We want to make sure that our districts are getting what they're supposed to get … We are concerned that we don't have the network to make sure that our communities are taken care of," said Democratic Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who is running for Congress. "That's the biggest point of contention right now."
One of a handful of homeowners who live on the block of the proposed jail site hand-delivered an invitation to Johnson on Tuesday morning, asking him to tour the site he's called home since 1944.
"He has no idea what a 40-story, even a 10-story building, will do on our block," the man said.
The council's Land Use Committee is set to vote Wednesday. That's the first step before the proposal heads for a full vote on the floor of the council on Thursday.
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