Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

More Fun with Jail: Pols Condemn Brooklyn HOD Reopening

November 17th, 2008 · No Comments

It’s just hard to find love for a big jail in a gentrifying neighborhood, especially when it involves a $450 million expansion and there are people that think the money ought to be invested in alternative programs that encourage rehabilitation. And so, yesterday, a number of elected officials including City Council Member David Yassky and State Senator-elect Daniel Squadron and well as New York City Housing Authority residents, in the words of press release “condemned the reopening of the Brooklyn House of Detention today, calling it Mayor Bloomberg’s first step in a backdoor attempt to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a large new jail and radically shift city corrections policy to favor incarceration over rehabilitation for prisoners.” The House of Detention, which stands on prime real estate at Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street was closed in 2003 when the city had an excess of jail space. The city is now planning a new $450 million tower and is moving prisoners back into the faciity this week.

Let’s continue with the press release:

In June, city Comptroller Bill Thompson called re-opening and expanding the facility a mistake, adding that the Department of Corrections “has not provided us with any feasible data that backs up their plan. In addition, it seems that the concerns of an entire community are being brushed to the side. “At a time of unparalleled financial crisis, this administration would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to reopen and expand a jail we don’t need in the middle of the city’s third-largest commercial district,””said Council Member David Yassky. “The negative impact to the city budget would be irreversible. It is disturbing that the administration would make such a controversial and questionable decision while leaving the public out of the process. I will make every effort to stop this waste of taxpayer dollars in the City Council.””

“Our community needs affordable housing, schools and parks—not a bigger jail. The city plans to close community centers because they say there is no money to keep them open, but they managed to find hundreds of millions of dollars to enhance a jail for criminals,” said Charlene Nimmons, president of the NYCHA Wyckoff Gardens Resident Association. “The city needs to be fixing its own dilapidated apartments first, not building a fancy new jails. What kind of message is being sent to our children when the city opts to have a massive jail in our neighborhood rather than community centers and better housing?”

“It is a serious mistake to re-open a jail in this growing and diverse neighborhood when we could use this property to meet vital community and city-wide needs like affordable housing and a new middle school,” said state Senator-elect Daniel Squadron. “To do so without a true community process is simply unacceptable.”

Much more to come on this issue. You can find some of our other coverage here.

Tags: Downtown Brooklyn · Uncategorized