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Rikers Island

New York City island and jail complex / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Rikers Island is a 413-acre (167.14-hectare)[1][2] island in the East River in the Bronx[3] that contains New York City's largest jail.[4][5]

Quick facts: Rikers Island, Location, Nearest city, C...
Rikers Island
The island and jail complex in 2004
Map showing the location of Rikers Island
Map showing the location of Rikers Island
LocationThe Bronx, New York City
Nearest cityNew York City
Coordinates40°47′28″N 73°52′58″W
Area413 acres (167 ha)
Governing bodyNew York City Department of Correction

Named after Abraham Rycken, who took possession of the island in 1664, the island was originally under 100 acres (40 ha) in size, but has since grown to more than 400 acres (160 ha). The first stages of expansion were accomplished largely by convict labor hauling in ashes for landfill. The island is politically part of the Bronx, although bridge access is only available from Queens. It is part of Queens Community Board 1 and uses an East Elmhurst, Queens, ZIP Code of 11370 for mail.[3]

The island is the site of one of the world's largest correctional institutions and mental institutions,[6] and has been described as New York's best-known jail.[7] The complex, operated by the New York City Department of Correction, has a budget of $860 million a year, a staff of 9,000 civilian officers and 1,500 other civilians managing 100,000 admissions per year and an average daily population of 10,000 inmates as of 2015.[8] The majority (85%) of detainees are pretrial defendants, either held on bail or remanded in custody. The rest of the population have been convicted and are serving short sentences.[9] According to a 2021 analysis by New York City Comptroller, it costs the city approximately $556,539 to detain one person for one year at Rikers Island.[10]

Rikers Island has a reputation for violence, both abuse and neglect of inmates, attracting increased press and judicial scrutiny that has resulted in numerous rulings against the New York City government, and numerous assaults by inmates on uniformed officers and other civilian staff, often resulting in serious injuries. In May 2013, Rikers Island ranked as one of the ten worst correctional facilities in the United States, based on reporting in Mother Jones magazine.[11] A documented increase in violence on Rikers Island was reported by the 2010s. In 2015, there were 9,424 assaults, the highest number in five years.[12] In October 2019, the New York City Council voted to close down the facility by 2026.[13]