Laura Flanders Show - Jumaane Williams & Hell Gate on Rikers: Why is it So Hard to Close a Jail?
The notorious Rikers, a 10-jail complex situated on an island in the East River of New York City, has become a national symbol and a symptom of our current approach to crime. The jail has over 6,000 inmates - the majority of whom are awaiting trial because they can't afford bail - living in unconstitutionally inhumane conditions, a federal court once ruled. In October 2019, the New York City Council passed, and then Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law, a plan to permanently close Rikers and replace the jails with four borough facilities by August 2027. But the proposed closure has hit roadblocks - from the left, from the right, from the prison guards union and from concerned residents who live near where new jails would be built. Although many support the Rikers closure, there is little agreement as to how and when - or what should replace it. Why is it so difficult to make changes to our challenged carceral system? Joining Laura to discuss the local and national implications of this story are Journalist Nick Pinto, co-founder of Hell Gate, a worker-owned news outlet covering New York City, and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who helped pass the law to close the jail. Elected Public Advocate last fall, he is now the prime sponsor of legislation that would ban solitary confinement in city jails. "... The education that's necessary to bring the voting public along with this sort of change is difficult. It's especially difficult in the face of a concerted fear mongering campaign." - Nick Pinto "This is the first time I've seen a population of folks in the city and the state who are ready to receive a conversation that's holistic around public safety. And we're squandering it." - Public Advocate Jumaane Williams Guests: Nick Pinto: NYC Journalist & Co-Founder, Hell Gate; Jumaane D. Williams: New York City Public Advocate.
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