Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

More Fun with the Brookyn Jail with Retail

January 6th, 2009 · 2 Comments

It feels like we’ve been covering the contentious issue of the reopening and expansion of the Brooklyn House of Detention on Atlantic Avenue forever. Well, tomorrow (1/6) at 9am there’s to be a rally in front of the Brooklyn Courthouse to protest and there will be another court hearing. The Stop BHOD Coalition, elected officials and community groups are urging community members to come out and show for keeping the jail closed and disposing of the property or reusing it.

Here’s a press release from Evan Thies that landed in our inbox on the whole fun subject:

State Court to Hear Suit to Stop Costly Re-Opening, Expansion of Brooklyn House of Detention; Elected Officials, Advocates for Better Corrections Policy to Rally Outside Courthouse

Thompson, Yassky, Adams and James: wasteful $440 million House of Detention expansion must go through community, land use process under city, state law; City corrections policy should focus on rehabilitation, not incarceration

The State Supreme Court will hear a suit to stop the illegal expansion and re-opening of the Brooklyn House of Detention on Tuesday as a growing coalition of elected officials, community groups, and good government advocates rally outside the courthouse. Sen. Eric Adams, Council Member Letitia James and Downtown Brooklyn’s two largest NYCHA tenants associations recently joined the lawsuit filed in November by Comptroller William C. Thompson, Council Member David Yassky, and others, arguing that New York City secretively and illegally re-populated and planned to massively expand its jail in Downtown Brooklyn despite deep concerns about an adverse impact on the City’s beleaguered budget and corrections department policy.

The City has repeatedly declared its intention to nearly double the size of its Brooklyn House of Detention on Atlantic Avenue, yet has not informed or engaged the public about the re-opening or the expansion project, nor has it followed any of the state or city laws which compel it to conduct a detailed analysis to determine environmental and other impacts. Meanwhile, despite the fiscal crisis, the City has re-opened the jail and budgeted about $440 million for jail construction, and already entered into contract to spend more than $30 million on an architect. In addition, the City intends to spend at least another $500 million on a new jail in the Bronx, despite unused capacity for prisoners elsewhere and major cuts to rehabilitation services.

The Brooklyn House of Detention was closed in 2003 because of a declining prison population, sizable capacity available for prisoners at Rikers Island, and in order to save money on the costs of running an extra jail. Soon after, however, the Bloomberg administration announced plans to build a towering new structure atop the exiting jail, nearly doubling its size and adding 700 new beds. Other plaintiffs in the suit include Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, Atlantic Avenue LDC, Cobble Hill Association, Boerum Hill Association, Brooklyn Vision, Boulevard East Board of Managers and Stop BHOD.
WHEN: Tuesday, January 6 – 9 AM
WHERE: Outside the State Supreme Court building in Cadman Plaza Park, Downtown Brooklyn (360 Adams St.). Note: Please join us on the steps in front of the park entrance to the courthouse, not on the Adams Street side.

Tags: Downtown Brooklyn · Uncategorized

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Barbara // Jan 7, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I’ve lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years. Fears I’ve heard expressed about the havoc that will be wrought by the jail’s re-opening seem overblown to me. I think about the time and energy the vocal minority of my neighbors and elected officials are putting into this, and to me it is NIMBY, pure and simple. That $440 million isn’t even in the city’s capital plan until 2011, so it’s not as if that money is available now to be channeled into other projects, as they would have you believe.

  • 2 Alex // Jan 8, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    The opponents’ point about rehabilitation over incarceration is laudable, but off-target. The BHOD is needed to house people awaiting trial, i.e., people who have not been found guilty or sentenced.
    Rikers Island, also known as the world’s largest penal colony, is not a proper substitute. It is hard for family and lawyers to get to; it’s dangerous; and it requires DOC to take people back and forth by bus (on old, polluting buses). We must have a holding facility connected to Criminal Court by underground walkable tunnel.
    The proposed expansion and the retail idea are debatable.