32 THE QUEENS COURIER • SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
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JOSHUA A. SCHNEPS
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A GREAT DAY FOR TENNIS AT THE U.S. OPEN // PHOTO VIA INSTAGRAM @astoriamylife
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STORY: LeBron James stuns young athletes at Queens high school,
gifts them with Nike sneakers and new locker rooms
SUMMARY: LeBron James surprised members of Christ the King’s
men’s and women’s basketball programs with a Sept. 4 visit to the
REACH: 25,941 people reached (as of 9/10/18)
Queens jail plan could be worse
When the de Blasio administration announced last month a borough-based
jail system plan to replace Rikers Island, Queens residents denounced the
idea as further evidence of the mayor’s liberalism run amok.
Th e city wants to demolish the now-vacant Queens Detention Complex
and nearby municipal parking lot to make way for a facility with 1,500 prisoner
beds and a public parking garage with more than twice the number of
available spaces than the existing lot.
Upon looking at the plan and site location, however, it’s not the worst idea
that could have come out of City Hall. Before you scream, please hear us out.
Th e Queens Detention Complex, as the name implies, previously served as
a holding facility for arrested individuals awaiting prosecution. It was taken
out of the corrections system about 15 years ago.
Th e complex is located adjacent to the Queens County Criminal Court;
those who would be housed at the complex wouldn’t have to travel very far
between their booking, arraignment and placement in a cell. Th e prisoners
wouldn’t have to take a bus ride through Queens neighborhoods to Rikers
Island. Th e location is also more convenient for family visits.
If you look on a map, you’ll notice that the nearest homes are about 600
feet away from the complex site — but the property itself has a manmade
border in the Van Wyck Expressway. Anyone who would dare to try crossing
that on foot puts their lives in their own hands.
Logistically, this proposal is a way better plan for Queens than the city
choosing a site in another neighborhood that isn’t close to a criminal court,
or lacks the ample separation between a jail site and local homes and businesses.
Th at being said, the larger question is whether the city should proceed with
the mayor’s vision of closing Rikers within 10 years.
Many prison reform experts claim that Rikers, in its current state, is
beyond redemption. Th e list of violent incidents that have occurred is almost
endless. Th e island is said to lack the adequate facilities to properly separate
violent off enders from non-violent criminals and to treat the mentally ill.
But others wonder why the city couldn’t construct those facilities on Rikers
without having to move inmates off the island and into local communities.
Th ese questions remain unanswered, and it’s up to all of us to provide the
On Sept. 26, the city will be holding a scoping meeting on the borough
based jail plan for Kew Gardens. Th e meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Queens
Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd. You can provide your thoughts in
advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We urge Queens residents to make their voices heard not only about the
Kew Gardens plan, but also about the future of Rikers Island itself.