Most of the City Council members from Queens signed a letter addressed to Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday, nominating the old Queens Detention Complex in Kew Gardens to be the borough’s Rikers Island replacement, according to the New York Daily News.
The complex is located behind the borough’s courthouse off of Queens Boulevard. It has been gathering dust for the past 15 years, and the local pols want to put it to use in the effort to close Rikers Island.
“These centrally-located facilities will help eliminate the current barriers to rehabilitation posed by Rikers’ isolation and disrepair, including inmates’ access to legal counsel, mental health services and medical care,” read the letter.
City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D-Maspeth, Woodside, Woodhaven, Glendale) is among the signors and brings a certain amount of clout being that she is the chair of the criminal justice committee.
City Council Member Karen Koslowitz (D-Rego Park, Kew Gardens, Forest Hills), whose district would house the new jail, also supports the plan.
The letter lays out a plan in accordance with de Blasio’s suggestion that each borough takes on smaller detention facilities to disperse prisoners and shut down Rikers Island, which has been mired in violence and controversy.
“The center was originally built for this purpose and for many years operated with little incident to the surrounding community,” read the letter. “At the same time, selecting this facility would avoid the fraught process of placing community jails in residential neighborhoods throughout the borough.”
De Blasio’s office did not return a request for comment in time for publication.
Donovan Richards (D-Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway), Peter Koo (Flushing, Murray Hill), Rory Lancman (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Jamaica, Fresh Meadows), Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, Jackson Heights, Woodside), Barry Grodenchik (D-Bayside, Bellerose, Floral Park), Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside, Woodside, Astoria, Long Island City), Daniel Dromm (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D_Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona), and Antonio Reynoso (D-Ridgewood) were the sources of the other signatures on the letter.