Bronx blindsided by mayor’s plan for Mott Haven jail

Bronx blindsided by mayor’s plan for Mott Haven jail
Community News Group/ Alex Mitchell

Mott Haven would become home to some of New York’s worst if the mayor’s plan to phase out Rikers Island comes to fruition.

The jail would be built at 320 Concord Avenue, on the current grounds of an NYPD tow pound, formerly the site of Lincoln Hospital.

Just two blocks from P.S. 65 elementary school.

While Mayor de Blasio has had his sights set on the Bronx location for some time, there wasn’t much communication with the borough’s leadership over the proposal.

“I was surprised to learn that the administration has already selected a site for a new jail in the Bronx. I hope that, going forward, this lack of outreach is not a harbinger of the amount of community input the people of my borough will have in this process,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

“However, any new site for a jail in this borough must be thoroughly vetted, and the people of the Bronx must have a meaningful say in the selection of any future site, be it the one that has been proposed in Mott Haven or other appropriate sites that could host a new jail,” he added.

“It is simply disrespectful that a decision of this magnitude of proposing to open a new jail in the south Bronx was made behind closed doors, without engaging the broader Bronx community,” said Assemblyman Michael Blake.

De Blasio stands with the chosen site and has assured that conversations will take place with the Bronx stakeholders.

“It is a very smart site in terms of its closeness to the courthouses. There is going to be a full community process, but let’s be clear, we’re going to talk to everyone, we’re going to listen to everyone, we’re going to try in every way possible address community needs and address other benefits that communities need” said the mayor.

“I know that a conversation does have to happen, and I apologize to the borough president in the Bronx. We have to do a better job at keeping him in the loop and the local community boards,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Concord Avenue’s surrounding area is a mix of residential buildings and auto body shops for the most part.

There are apartment buildings and row houses that would face the prison directly if built.

Existing jails in Queens and Brooklyn would house some of the 9,000 inmates currently on Rikers Island.

The city’s plan would split the inmate population throughout four different sites, while attempting to reduce the prison population numbers to only 5,000, by releasing non-violent offenders.

The mayor admitted that the inmate population would have to drop to 5,000 for his new proposal to be workable.

De blasio’s plan was announced just after the brutal inmate assault on NYC Department of Corrections officer Jean Roston Souffrant, leaving him with a fractured spine and other injuries.

Since de Blasio took office, over 2,000 corrections officers have been assaulted inmates, according to statistics.

Something that de Blasio, Diaz and Blake are all in agreement with is the need for criminal justice and corrections reform.

No timetable has been established for the proposal yet. A new site for the police pound was not identified.