NEW YORK (PIX 11) — Prison reform advocates rallied outside City Hall Thursday, calling on Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Council to take all necessary steps to comply with the legal mandate to shutter the infamous Rikers Island jail complex by its deadline of Aug. 31, 2027.

A week after the eighth inmate died at the notorious prison, the rally marked the launch of a formal countdown clock reminding the mayor and City Council that time is ticking.

“Let the mayor know that he has an obligation to close this place down,” said Ashley Conrad of the advocacy group Freedom Agenda. “This is law. It’s a plan that was well thought out and curated by years and years of organizing by directly impacted people.”

The legal mandate to close the troubled jail was issued back in 2019 under the de Blasio administration, with four borough-based jails set to replace it. Mayor Adams is now saying the City Council should rethink that plan, citing concerns that the smaller jails can’t hold the entire population of 6,000 inmates.

“Are we as a city willing to say that 2,000 extremely dangerous people, because we don’t have enough space, we’re going to turn them back to the streets and back to the communities that they committed these crimes in, in the first place?” The mayor questioned. “I’m not ready to say that.”

Advocates struck back by saying many of the inmates on Rikers Island are awaiting trial for non-violent crimes and that the city should invest more resources into low-income communities.

“The root of crime is often poverty, and if we can eradicate poverty and get people stabilized in the way that we can, in the way that rich communities are,” said Conrad. “You don’t see police officers on every corner. They have resources and that’s what needs to happen in our city.”

In a statement, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Councilmember Carlina Rivera said it is imperative that Mayor Adams remains on track to closing Rikers and take responsibility for implementing the law that requires the prison to close in four years.