Over 200 Rikers inmates to be transferred to state-run jails

More than 200 women and transgender inmates at Rikers Island will be moved to state-run lockups to help alleviate problems at the dysfunctional city jail, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.

In a joint statement, the mayor and governor said that 230 women and transgender Rikers detainees will be transferred in the coming weeks to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and the Taconic Correctional Facility in Westchester — both run by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The transfers, which are temporary, are slated to begin next week, according to the press release. The plan includes twice-a-week transfers of between 10 and 20 people to the pair of Bedford Hills prisons.

“These actions will further help ease staffing concerns, capacity constraints, and improve safety for several hundred detainees until such time that the city can identify and implement a permanent solution that will bring justice to the situation at Rikers,” she said.

“New York City is committed to forging a fairer, more humane justice system,” de Blasio said in the statement. “I’m proud to work with Governor Hochul on this initiative, which will provide important relief for the situation on Rikers.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 230 women and transgender Rikers detainees will be transferred to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and the Taconic Correctional Facility.
Matthew McDermott

“Our reform efforts on Rikers Island have made encouraging progress, and our borough-based jails plans are moving forward and will fully transform this system — but there is no substitute for immediate support from our State partners at this critical moment in time.”

According to the initial plan, the city Department of Correction will begin on Oct. 22 providing daily transportation from the five boroughs to the Westchester facilities for family members and loved ones of the people held in custody.

Patrick Ferraiuolo, president of the Correction Captains’ Association, said the move “doesn’t make an ounce of sense.”

“They don’t know what they’re going to do with the new admissions, that’s the funny thing,” he scoffed.

He also noted that one of the key problems that has long driven calls to shutter Rikers — that the remote East River facilities are difficult for lawyers and visitors — is exacerbated under the governor and mayor’s maneuver.

Rikers Island
More than 200 women and transgender inmates at Rikers will be moved to state-run lockups to help ease problems at the dysfunctional jail.
J.C.Rice

“They talk about having borough facilities because of the convenience of the court. Now, they’re putting them almost two hours upstate, and they’re all detainees with court dates,” Ferraiuolo said. “It’s insane.”

A dozen people have died this year alone in the city’s troubled, short-staffed jail system, including 11 on Rikers Island.

In response to the mounting crisis, de Blasio last month announced an “emergency plan” that includes punishing absentee and AWOL correction officers.

Hochul, for her part, in September signed the Less is More Act, which stopped the state from detaining ex-cons for parole violations, and ordered the immediate release of 191 people held at Rikers for similar infractions.

Under the de Blasio administration’s $9 billion plan, Rikers is slated to close by 2027, and be replaced by four city jails in each borough except Staten Island.