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Leading mayoral contender Andrew Yang wants to close the jails on Rikers Island, but doesn’t know when, saying Tuesday it’s “tough” for him to commit to a specific timetable.
“I support closing Rikers Island as soon as we can,” Yang said in a Freedom Agenda interview that aired on the left-leaning nonprofit’s Youtube channel Tuesday evening, when he was asked if he would commit to closing the facility by the end of August 2027.
“It’s tough for me to commit when we can get this done by, but we need to get it done.
“The goal should be to have jails that reflect our values, and Rikers does not do that. Hopefully, the new jail[s] will better represent what New York is about.”
Yang—who called Rikers Island “a stain on the city” and an “inhumane” place that needs to be closed “as quickly as possible”— is atop most recent polls in the campaign to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose administration fashioned the current plan to shutter Rikers Island.
De Blasio’s end of year departure from City Hall puts much of the control of closing Rikers Island —and potential construction of four borough-based jails slated to replace the controversial facilities—in the next mayor’s hands.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, another top-tier Democratic mayoral candidate, also supports closing Rikers.
“Eric supports the closing of Rikers Island on the original timeline and the concept of community-based facilities that allow families and networks of support to be closer to those who are incarcerated,” Adams campaign spokesman Evan Thies told The Post in a statement Tuesday.
But last month, he criticized the mayor’s plan of building a new, larger jail in Lower Manhattan at the site of the Manhattan Detention Complex.
“I do not support building a jail there,” he said during an April 27 forum. Kathryn Garcia, who the New York Times editorial board endorsed Monday, supports closing the facilities on Rikers Island and turning it into a hub for renewable energy.
“I fully support the Renewable Rikers proposal,” Garcia said in a statement.
“Rikers Island is the ideal location to harvest renewable energy with solar panels, large battery storage, composting sites, wastewater treatment and digestion, and electric charging stations for the city’s fleet.”
“As individual jail facilities close or consolidate on the island, we will implement a phased plan to jumpstart the build-out of critical infrastructure necessary for NYC’s carbon-free future.”
Garcia, though, at the April forum called into question the “size” of the planned jails and “whether or not we need new jails in every community.”
Former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire says Rikers Island’s jail should be shut down, but isn’t yet sure how best to jail people pre-trial once the complex is shuttered.
“Rikers in its current form is clearly broken and needs to be shut down and replaced. I’m never going to pretend to have simple answers to complex problems — and in this case, I believe I will need to discuss the current city jail plan with a wide range of experts to determine whether it is the best plan or if we can do better,” he said in a statement.
“I don’t want to spend $10 billion on something unless I’m confident it will actually address the fundamental problems in our criminal justice system.”
Comptroller Scott Stringer, who has attmped to keep his campaign afloat amid a sexual assault allegaiton that he denies, opposes the mayor’s blueprint to replace the jails, though he supports closing them.
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