Plan To Shutter The Tombs, Rikers Put On Hold Through Thursday

Payton Potter
·1 min read

NEW YORK CITY — A judge in New York City this week signed an order temporarily halting plans to shutter the Otis Bantum Correctional Center at Rikers Island and the Manhattan Detention Complex, commonly known as The Tombs.

The order was to stay in effect until Thursday, when city and union officials are set to again take up discussions on the closure, the New York Daily News reports.

Opposition to the closure comes from the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association. The union's president told the Daily News the coronavirus pandemic complicates closure efforts, making it harder for staff members and inmates to socially distance in more crowded jails.

The New York Department of Corrections has not reported any cases of in-jail coronavirus transmission since May.

New York City announced late last year that the jails would close, eliminating roughly 2,100 beds from the city's jail system. The announcement followed the city council's approval of an $8.7 billion plan for a borough-based jail system that calls for new facilities with more modern designs and better access to social and court services, Patch reported at the time.

Earlier this year, the city released a number of at-risk inmates serving time for low-level sentences. Data shows the jail system now houses some 4,700 people.

A City Law Department spokesperson told the Daily News the department plans to handle closures in a way that prevents the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“The [Correction] Department’s plan to consolidate two jails, which has been underway for weeks, is being done based on proven public health practices which have been effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” the spokesperson said.

This article originally appeared on the New York City Patch