The city of New York has hired a firm experienced in architecture and design to research a workable plan to replace the jails that are located on Rikers Island. Four firms in all submitted applications to the city for the project but the firm of Perkins Eastman was determined to be the most qualified to assist the city with its plan to shut down Rikers Island jails within the next decade.
Perkins is to complete the study over the next ten months and the firm will be compensated $7.6 million for its efforts.
Elizabeth Glazer, who is the director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice explains that Perkins is being asked to make a determination as to whether current jails can possibly be expanded and to survey new location possibilities for the jails. Perkins will also take part in discussions with neighborhood groups, assess the environmental impact of building new jails, and come up with design possibilities for the jails.
Ms. Glazer explains that it is critical to remember that jails are not an isolated thing that is hidden from the eye of the public but are rather a part of the larger ebb and flow of the community at large and should be viewed as civic assets.
The firm of Perkins Eastman will study jails that exist in Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn and will then seek to identify potential sites in other locations throughout the city, including locations in the Bronx. The current city jail for the Bronx is located on a barge which itself is located in the East River which cannot be expanded on will no longer be used. City officials also informed that there are no plans at the present time to build any jails in Staten Island.
City officials, speaking specifically of the shut down of the violence-plagued Rikers Island facility, say that the move is part of a larger initiative to facilitate a smaller and fairer system of criminal justice in the city of New York. It is estimated that the city’s inmate population would have to be reduced to about 5000 in order to shut down the Rikers complex. Currently, there are approximately 9000 city jail inmates at the facility.
Perkins Eastman, headquartered in New York City, has participated in other notable local projects. Among them are the DREAM charter school in Harlem, Brooklyn courthouses, and Port Authority Bus Terminal.