What is the NYC Borough-Based Jail System?

What is the NYC Borough-Based Jail System?

In the spring of 2017, the City committed to closing the jails on Rikers Island and creating a network of modern and humane borough-based jails. This smaller jail system, built upon a foundation of dignity and respect, would house a jail population of approximately 5,000, reflecting the reality that both crime and the number of people in jail have continued to fall.

This borough-based system would strengthen connections to families, attorneys, courts, medical and mental health care, and faith and community-based organizations. Being closer to home and transit would enhance the network of support systems for people who are detained, and help prevent future returns to jail.

The new sites would be designed to foster safety and wellbeing for both those incarcerated and for staff, providing space for quality education, health, and therapeutic programming. Modern sites would also serve as a catalyst for positive change in the community and the criminal justice system.

We ask you to join us in reimagining these jails as civic assets that would provide a better life for those who are detained and work in them, support smoother transitions back home, and serve as resources for the community.

To view a brochure of NYC Borough-Based Jail System
Download: Borough Sites: Brooklyn  |  The Bronx  |  Queens

Design Principles & Guidelines

This draft “Design Principles & Guidelines” document provides critical information for interested architects and architectural firms, the broader construction community, as well as the general public, on  the City’s plans for a new Manhattan site as part of the process of closing jails on Rikers Island.

These principles and guidelines articulate the goals of constructing new, modern sites that are both positive civic institutions in the communities they will call home, as well as transformative supportive environments for all that enter them.

This draft document will continue to be updated with feedback the City receives from our partners in the Justice Implementation Task Force, neighborhood and community stakeholders, formerly incarcerated individuals, and a peer review made up of industry and justice system experts. This input will be incorporated into the Design Principles in advance of their inclusion in any final procurement documents.

Click here to read the ‘Design Principles & Guidelines: Manhattan Detention Site’

Click here to read the ‘Design Principles & Guidelines: Queens Detention Site’

How Can You Participate?

Community engagement in this process is critical, as the path forward relies on continued support for this vision. The City is leading a public review process to engage people who are detained, staff, families, service providers, attorneys, advocates, community members, and neighborhood groups to ensure that the voices of New Yorkers from all communities can help shape the plan. Through this process, concerns about design and neighborhood impacts will be heard and taken into account.

City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR)

Development of these new sites requires a City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR). This review is a legally required city process that identifies and discloses significant adverse impacts on the environment, including noise, air quality, displacement, and traffic. Four scoping meetings and public hearings in each of the four affected boroughs were held during the public comment period and the City extended the comment submission period for the draft scope of work from October 15th to October 29th, 2018.

Pursuant to the City’s Rules of Procedure for City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR), written comments on this Draft Scope of Work were accepted by NYC Department of Correction (DOC) through October 29, 2018.

The Final Scope of Work is the basis for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which analyzes the potential for environmental impacts as a result of the proposed project. In accordance with SEQRA/CEQR regulations, written comments on the DEIS will be accepted by DOC during the public comment period which runs from March 22, 2019 through ten days after the DEIS/City Planning Commission public hearing. The DEIS public hearing will be noticed in accordance with the SEQRA/CEQR.

Written comments can be submitted via mail or email to:
Howard Judd Fiedler, A.I.A.
Director of Design Unit
New York City Department of Correction
75-20 Astoria Boulevard, Suite 160
East Elmhurst, NY 11370

To view copies of the New York City Borough-Based Jail System CEQR Documents, including the Final Scope of Work and the Final Environmental Impact Statement CLICK HERE

Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP)
After issuance of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on March 22, 2019, the CEQR process merged with the ULURP process, which provides for public review of the project’s land use applications. The City Planning Commission certified the ULURP application for the borough-based jails system on March 25, 2019. The ULURP process includes  public hearings set by the Community Boards, Borough Presidents, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council.

To view materials from the public hearings, click here.

The City is committed to ensuring robust public engagement throughout the formal review process which will include multiple public hearings. In addition, we will continue to plan and participate in community discussions to make sure New Yorkers have a voice in helping shape the plan.

Neighborhood Advisory Committees (NACs)

As a part of the City’s commitment to addressing community concerns by conducting community engagement in a robust and transparent way, Neighborhood Advisory Committees (NACs) have been created.

The NACs were established to allow the Mayor’s Office to hear a variety of perspectives, including some that may or may not be from people or groups engaged in the formal ULURP process or with their Community Boards. The City created the NACs from each of the communities that will be impacted as we take steps to fulfill the City’s commitment to creating a fairer and more humane criminal justice system.

The selection of the NAC members in all four boroughs was done in consultation with the respective Council Member and selected by the City. The NACs are comprised of community leaders and each one will make a list of recommendations (“Guidelines and Principles”) regarding (1) identifying key opportunities for community investments (community centers, cultural centers, parks, etc.); (2) ways to improve how these sites will be integrated into the surrounding neighborhood, including a memorialization of top community concerns; and (3) how to use the community-related site space within each borough jail.

The NAC’s list of recommendations (“Guidelines and Principles”) will be shared with all of the ULURP participants (Community Boards, Borough Presidents, City Planning Commission, and City Council) as an advisory document and incorporated as a chapter in the Capital Project Scope Development (CPSD) Master Plan.

To view the NAC meeting materials, click here.