About 230 women and transgender inmates will be transferred from Rikers Island starting next week, as pressure builds on New York leaders to address unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the understaffed and aging prison.
New York Gov. Kathy HochulKathy HochulThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle EMILY's List announces early endorsement of Hochul More than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island MORE (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioEMILY's List announces early endorsement of Hochul More than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island Achieving equity through mediocrity: Why elimination of gifted programs should worry us all MORE (D) announced an agreement on Wednesday to move the 230 inmates to two state-run facilities.
"The situation on Rikers Island is grave and complex, and thus requires bold action from all levels of government to deliver change," Hochul said in a statement, adding that the majority of the women and transgender populations at Rikers would be part of the move.
“These actions will further help ease staffing concerns, capacity constraints, and improve safety for several hundred detainees until such time that the City can identify and implement a permanent solution that will bring justice to the situation at Rikers," she added.
Members of New York's congressional delegation have urged Hochul and de Blasio to close the prison entirely. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention More than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island MORE, Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMore than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island Alabama using COVID funds to build new prisons — is that Biden's vision? Alabama clears plan to use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons MORE, Jamaal Bowman and Nydia Velázquez sent a letter to that effect last month.
The New York Times in a report earlier this month detailed how Rikers Island has been mired in staffing shortages that at times allowed inmates to move around the complex comfortably, as well as the degraded conditions within the complex. The newspaper also reported on safety and security concerns among inmates and prison staff alike.
Last month, Hochul announced that close to 200 inmates from Rikers Island would be released, in addition to transferring hundreds of inmates at Rikers Island to state prisons.
According to a press release on Hochul’s Wednesday announcement, the 230 inmates are slated to be temporarily transferred to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and Taconic Correctional Facility, in twice weekly trips starting next week.
Anthony Annucci, New York's acting corrections commissioner, will then make recommendations “on approaches to longer-term solutions” for 230 inmates, according to Hochul’s office.