On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced support in closing Rikers Island, a jail marred with a lengthy, contentious history.
“It will take many years and it will take many tough decisions along the way, but it will happen,” he said during an afternoon press conference.
Plans to close the jail permanently are expected to unfold over the next 10 years, but also require an array of logistics that will need to be ironed out. The mayor hopes to reduce the jail population to 5,000 people.
According to The New York Times, the mayor’s recommendation was spurred by a 97-page report conducted independently by Judge Jonathan Lippman spearheaded by the City Council last year.
A top recommendation unveiled in a draft of the report obtained by the Times says the city would plan to move inmates into a system of smaller jails spread across the five boroughs to the tune of $10.6 billion.
Supporters of closing the jail said redistributing the inmates to smaller jails would improve their quality of life and reduce delays shuttling criminal suspects to and from court.
De Blasio faced increasing pressure from prison reform advocates and Governor Andrew Cuomo after numerous incidents of corruption exposed the inner workings of the jail, including police brutality, poor medical attention for inmates and the inhumane treatment of minors in solitary confinement–highlighted by the Kalief Browder case.
Friday’s announcement marks a significant departure in tone from de Blasio who originally said shuttering the jail was a “noble concept,” but would cost the city billions.