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Commentary By Seth Barron

The Plan to Close Rikers Island Is a Ruse to End Broken-Windows Policing as We Know It

Public Safety, Cities Policing, Crime Control, New York City

New York City’s plan to shut down Rikers Island is a bait-and-switch scheme. The report by former state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s blue-ribbon commission, tasked with figuring out what to do with the nation’s largest jail complex, concludes that the city should close Rikers and replace it with smaller, borough-based modern jails.

Before that can happen, however, the report says, the city must first reduce its jail population from its present level of about 10,000 to around 5,000.

Which is to say, the real purpose of the proposal isn’t to close Rikers: It’s to let 5,000 people out of jail by pursuing a decriminalization agenda that would end broken-windows policing as we know it.

Anchoring the commission’s report is a set of premises which, if put into practice, would radically change the way the city is policed, beginning with a focus on the negative effects of incarceration on arrestees.

“Spending time in jail is bad for you on a host of levels,” the report says....

Read the entire piece here at New York Daily News


Seth Barron is associate edtior of City Journal and project director of the Manhattan Institute’s NYC Initiative.

This piece originally appeared in New York Daily News