Planning commission votes in favor of mayor’s Rikers replacement plan

LOWER MANHATTAN — In a 9-3 vote, the city’s planning commission voted to move forward with a plan, backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, to close Rikers Island and build four new borough-based jails.

At a contentious hearing, protestors interrupted the commissioners as they spoke, clearly passionate about not moving the vote forward.

The plan would reduce the city’s jail population from over 9,000 to 5,000 by 2026.

The plan has been the target of a number of protests from groups who are opposed to the new jails.

Some of the protestors are concerned over potential quality of life issues that a new jail could bring to their neighborhoods.

The planned jails are set to be built in Lower Manhattan, Downtown Brooklyn, Kew Gardens in Queens and in the South Bronx.

There’s also been opposition from an activist group, “No New Jails,” that supports closing Rikers but doesn't want the city to build new jailing facilities. The group interrupted the hearing.

“With today’s vote, we are one step closer to closing Rikers Island and creating a smaller, safer, fairer jail system,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “That’s one step closer to bringing people back to their communities and families, one step closer to ending the cycle of recidivism and one step closer to ending mass incarceration once and for all.”

There is a public hearing scheduled for Thursday followed by a 50-day comment period before the plan can be voted on.

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