New York, NY –City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitting and Dispositions, Adrienne Adams, and Council Members Diana Ayala, Margaret Chin, Karen Koslowitz and Stephen Levin announced today that as result of the expected drop in the average daily jail population, community engagement, and design-efficient improvements, the maximum height for the new borough-based facilities needed to close Rikers Island will be significantly reduced from its original proposed plan. The first proposal called for jail facilities ranging from a 450 feet height to 245 feet. The latest height proposal ranges from a maximum of 295 feet to 195 feet.

These design changes are in response to the concerns raised by the four communities which will house the new jails, and will help better integrate them into their neighborhoods. 

The changes are feasible in large part because of four primary factors. First, the state bail reforms that went into effect in April 2019, which will result in fewer people being detained in city jails. Second, the expansion of the city-funded supervised release program, which will also drive down the number of people in jail. The third factor is the relocation of at least 250 beds from the new borough-based facilities into NYC Health & Hospitals facilities, to house individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness or other serious health issues in a more clinical setting. And lastly, design changes that reconfigured housing floor plans for the new borough based jails from double loaded corridors to single loaded corridor, resulting in one additional housing unit per floor in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. 

The original borough-based facilities were designed with an expected average daily jail population of 5,000 by 2026. Speaker Johnson and Mayor de Blasio announced on Monday that the expected average daily jail population for 2026 is now 3,300 due to the expectation of fewer people incarcerated. 

All four borough-based facilities will see a reduction in size:

·      Bronx: from 245 feet down to 195 feet (equivalent of 24 floors high to 19 floors high).

·      Brooklyn: from 395 feet to 295 feet (39 floors to 29 floors high).

·      Manhattan: from 450 feet to 295 feet (45 floors to 29 floors high).

·      Queens: from 270 feet to 195 feet (27 floors to 19 floors high).

The City Council is grateful for the community input, and will continue to ask for feedback as the borough-based facilities are being designed.

“I want to thank Council Members Ayala, Chin, Koslowitz and Levin for their dedication to their communities. People said these buildings were too large for their neighborhoods, and they listened and fought for changes. I thank the de Blasio administration for working with us to better serve these communities,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

“The administration’s commitment to reducing the height of the four planned borough-based jails is another step in the right direction. This revised plan will not only reduce capacity but will allow the facilities to better integrate with the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions, Council Member Adrienne Adams.

“These height reductions are a direct response to concerns expressed by various communities about the sizes of the proposed borough-based facilities. In the Bronx, height will be reduced by 50 feet, resulting in a much smaller facility than originally planned,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “With reduced heights and a projected jail population of 3,300 by 2026, the borough-based jail plan will shrink our criminal justice system and puts us on the path to decarceration,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.

“From the start, one of my top priorities was to achieve a serious reduction of the height of the Mayor’s proposed jail at 124/125 White Street. This goal was one that many community members shared and echoed throughout the land use review process. Working with residents, I secured a significant height reduction from 450 feet to 295 feet. The 155-foot drop is the largest reduction of the four borough-based jails and ensures that the proposed jail will no longer be out-of-scale with the neighborhood,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

“The last several months I have been adamant that the proposed size of the borough based jail in Kew Gardens needed to be significantly reduced. As a result of difficult negotiations with the Administration, I am pleased to have reduced the height of the facility by close to 100 feet, and cut the number of beds that the facility will house nearly in half,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.  

“From the outset of this plan, I have said the proposed Brooklyn site was simply too big and out of context with the scale of the neighborhood. Through comprehensive policy reform and a commitment to decarceration and diversion programs, the projected jail population has been significantly reduced, and subsequently so has the size of the building — dropping to a max height of 295 feet, down from 430ft. I am glad to see these critical changes made to the plan, along with the recognition that we need to do everything in our capabilities to reduce our jail system as small as possible. I will continue to work with our community leaders and the administration over the next few days to ensure the plan sufficiently meets all of our community needs,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.