The mayor of New York City has vowed to close the notorious prison on Rikers Island within 10 years. Mayor Bill de Blasio has also promised to replace the violence-hit correction home with "at least a few new facilities" to lock up inmates elsewhere in the city.
"It will take many years. It will take many tough decisions along the way, but it will happen," De Blasio said at a press conference on Friday (31 March).
Closing the shutters of Rikers would be "long and arduous", but local officials and stakeholders had a "moral obligation" to do so, he said. The whole process would require reducing the jail population by roughly half, he added.
"The length of this process will also require continued investment in the facilities and conditions on Rikers Island that remain key to rehabilitation efforts for thousands of New Yorkers in the years ahead," the mayor said in a statement.
However, he has not yet revealed the details of the plan, the BBC reported.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was present at the news conference, supported De Blasio's effort and said she was open to the possibility of a jail in her own district, which covers East Harlem and the South Bronx.
De Blasio's announcement came as a surprise for some because the mayor had previously rejected the option of closing the prison.
The mayor, who is up for re-election in 2017, had earlier said the idea was "a noble concept, but one that will cost many billions of dollars, and we do not have a viable pathway to that at this point".
Following a series of brutality cases that revealed corruption at the facility, an independent commission had been looking into the option of closing the prison complex.