Other boroughs join Bronx in deploring Mott Haven jail proposal

Other boroughs join Bronx in deploring Mott Haven jail proposal
An earlier, citywide protest of the jail plan at City Hall on Sunday, March 24.
Schneps Media/ Alex Mitchell

Once again, our sister boroughs are uniting to oppose Mayor de Blasio’s community-based jail plan.

Advocates from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan announced a new campaign called Boroughs United on Thursday, June 6.

Launching an online opposition campaign at DeBlasiosJails.com, the citywide coalition targets not only the plan to put a 24 to 25 floor jail in Mott Haven at 745 E. 141st Street, but each facility in the four boroughs that would adopt a new incarceration center.

“As Mayor de Blasio pitches himself on the national stage as a progressive presidential candidate, this campaign will point out that the mayor’s proposal is not progressive at all,” Boroughs United said through a statement.

“It is a regressive plan that will not radically impact criminal justice reform and will instead simply divert billions of dollars in public funding to the creation of new jails that will have many of the same problems seen at other New York City jails,” it continued.

A similar motion of protest was executed on Sunday, March 24, when Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. joined protestors from the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan on the steps of City Hall in opposing the concept of what they call ‘a miss’ at proper criminal justice reform.

Boroughs United counters that it would be far more progressive to invest those billions of dollars in building communities, strengthening diversion programs, providing alternatives to incarceration for pre-trial detainees, supporting mental health and drug use treatment programs, ensuring speedy trials, addressing the systemic issues related to conditions on Rikers Island, and protecting “the rights of detained and incarcerated women, children and men of color.”

“Mayor de Blasio should withdraw his deeply flawed plan and focus on progressive reforms that strengthen communities and protect human rights,” said Nancy Kong, a spokesperson for Boroughs United.

The Bronx portion of the citywide coalition is led by South Bronx Unite, a volunteer organization that serves as a watchdog for the future of Mott Haven, Port Morris and its neighboring areas.

South Bronx Unite’s website has its own page dedicated to the nearly year and a half battle over the jail plan with an online petition against it as well.

“We applaud the city’s plan to close Rikers Island, but the answer is not to expand the criminal justice footprint not in the south Bronx,” the petition’s description says.

“We challenge the city to further reduce the number of people in jail through a combination of bail reform, decriminalization of minor offenses, and more restorative ways to deal with crime that would make the construction of a new facility unnecessary,” it continued.

The launch of Boroughs United comes just days after the Mott Haven Community, led by Arline Parks and Diego Beekman Mutual Housing sued the city over the south Bronx jail.

That urgently marked lawsuit is still undergoing court proceedings.

Weeks prior to that, Diaz joined Queens Borough President Melinda Katz in sending de Blasio a scathing letter of opposition and dissentient over the way he and the city have gone about the attempt to close Rikers Island by 2027.

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