Rikers Island Will Not Close by 2027 Deadline, N.Y.C. Official Admits

A senior New York City official acknowledged on Monday that Rikers Island, one of the nation’s most notorious jails, would not be closed by the legally mandated deadline of August 2027.

The candid admission from Jacques Jiha, the city’s budget director, reflected Mayor Eric Adams’s resistance to closing the Rikers jail complex and the city’s nearly invisible progress in building the four smaller borough facilities that are supposed to replace it.

“We know it’s not going to happen by 2027,” Mr. Jiha told the City Council, referring to the completion of the replacement jails.

The Council in 2019 voted to close Rikers Island and replace it with four smaller jails that would be more humane in design and, because they were not on an island in the middle of the East River, more accessible to detainees’ lawyers and family members.

Bill de Blasio, Mr. Adams’s predecessor, ultimately backed the plan, which included the August 2027 deadline.

When Mr. Adams ran for office, he said he supported closing Rikers, but he also aligned himself with the union representing correction officers, which was critical of the effort. As mayor, Mr. Adams’s position has evolved. He has sown doubt about the wisdom of the plan, and noted that the capacity of the replacement jails was too small to accommodate the current Rikers population.

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