HP says “no” to ‘Mini Rikers’ proposal

The suggestion of another Hunts Point prison has residents and community leaders fuming.

This week, Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman Rafael Salamanca and local residents gathered at the Vernon C. Bain Center prison barge, located at 1 Halleck Street, to protest a proposal which would result in the development of a ‘mini Rikers’ at the southern edge of the peninsula.

The plan called for the construction of a 2,000-bed adult jail in Hunts Point, and the closing of the 800-inmate Vernon C. Bain Center.

Plans for the development of new jail facilities in the five boroughs surfaced two weeks ago, after Governor Cuomo and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito supported the closing of the prison on Rikers Island, NYC’s main jail complex, which currently houses approximately 10,000 inmates on a daily basis, as the best solution to ending brutality and dysfunction inside of the city’s jails.

An 18-page document outlining the plans for the ‘mini Rikers’ in Hunts Point was exposed shortly after Mayor de Blasio’s administration denied any knowledge of the plan to locate new jail facilities in the city.

Along with Klein and Salamanca, the rally was also attended by members of Community Board 2, Mothers on the Move and Forward South Bronx Coalition.

“Hunts Point, as well as much of the south Bronx, has been a dumping ground for long enough,” said Cedric McClester, chairman of Forward South Bronx Coalition, an local organization that primarily focuses on reducing substance use and abuse among youth. “The south Bronx is trying to come up – and a new jail facility is not the answer.”

“We are tired of the city treating the south Bronx like an unwanted step child,” McClester added.

“Building jails is a bad idea because it does not fix the problem,” said Dr. Ian Amritt, chairman of CB 2. “Hunts Point is resurrecting itself from a dark past – so why should the community support this?”

“While I understand that we need to make strides in improving corrections infrastructure, primarily Rikers Island, the solution is not building a new facility in the South Bronx,” said Councilman Salamanca. “I’m incredibly concerned that it took a leaked document provided to a newspaper for this community to learn about a proposal to place a possible jail in Hunts Point.”

“The Hunts Point community has worked hard to develop this area and a ‘secretive’ plan to bring a ‘mini Rikers’ to Hunts Point is simply unacceptable,” said Senator Klein. “An exposed document is not how this community should learn about a proposal that will impact their day-to-day lives.”

“This community (of Hunts Point) has its own vision for business, housing and growth, and this proposal puts their vision behind bars,” Senator Klein added.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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