prison

A New Jail for Greenpoint?

Not very likely. However, there has been talk in recent weeks of a new satellite jail being built in Greenpoint to compensate for a proposed closure of Rikers Island.  The idea to close the city’s main jail complex is nothing new – it was first presented a decade ago by the then-commissioner of the New York City Correction Department, Martin F. Horn. Horn envisioned closing down the troubled Rikers facility and rehousing thousands of inmates in new state-of-the-art facilities built in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Recently, the former Brooklyn Union Gas Company location at 287 Maspeth Avenue has been scouted as a possible location for a new jail.

Photo via the New York Times
Photo via the New York Times

The New York Times has been following this story for years and has several articles documenting the struggle that is Rikers Island. The dilapidated jails, built on a landfill, are not structurally stable and are prone to flooding and other issues. In addition to the environmental concerns, Rikers has a pretty serious culture of violence (one that goes both ways). An investigation by the Times reported several cases of brutality against mentally ill inmates, which currently make up nearly 40 percent of the Rikers population. These incidents included gang assaults by officers that resulted in serious injuries.

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“Put away your phones and devices and have real experiences. Be with people.” – Daniel Selling of Williamsburg Therapy Group

Daniel Selling / Director Williamsburg Therapy Group

While sitting on a surprisingly comfy modern sofa inside a patient suite at Williamsburg Therapy Group, I enjoyed a tranquil view of a quiet stretch of Grand St obscured by tropical plants in neatly arranged terra cotta pots. I noticed stacks of books on the window sill with titles that referred to the psychology of African American families, Racial Oppression and the US Prison System – not the population of patients I imagined served by this practice. Continue reading

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