12 SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
Queens jail plan could be worse
When the de Blasio administration
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.
The 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
The 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.
The 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. The
prisoners wouldn’t have to take a bus
ride through Queens neighborhoods
to Rikers Island. The 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
That 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. The list of violent
incidents that have occurred is
almost endless. The 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
These questions remain unanswered,
and it’s up to all of us to provide
On Sept. 26, the city will be holding
a scoping meeting on the borough
based jail plan for Kew Gardens.
The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Queens
Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd.
You can provide your thoughts in
advance by emailing boroughplan@
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.
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