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New York City lawmakers vote to close Rikers Island jail by 2026
New York lawmakers approved a plan on Thursday to close the infamous Rikers Island prison complex by 2026, The Associated Press reported.
By a tally of 36-13, the New York City Council voted to replace the complex, long known for its brutality and inhumane conditions, with four smaller jails that will be designed to be modern and more humane, according to the news source.
"Rikers Island is a symbol of brutality and inhumanity and it is time for us to once and for all close Rikers Island," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told the AP.
"As a city we must do everything we can to move away from the failed policies of mass incarceration," he added.
The new facilities, which will be located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, will cost an estimated $8 billion, but the plan has sturdy support from local officials, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The city's ability to close Rikers is in part because of the city's decreasing incarcerated population. In 1991, according to the AP, there were 22,000 inmates; now, there are only 7,000.
City officials reportedly hope to have the total number of inmates decreased to 3,300 by 2026.
Freshman Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has long been a fierce critic of Rikers, which is in her district.
In June, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted "a prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations."