Borough Hall Hosts Public Forum on New Jail Scoping Wednesday

By David Brand

The city will host a public meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. inside Borough Hall to review plans to close Rikers Island jails and redevelop the Queens House of Detention to house roughly 1,500 detainees moved off the island.

Queens House of Detention, located next to the Criminal Courthouse, will also include “support space for correctional programming” and therapeutic services, community space and parking, according to a planning description on the city website.

 An artist’s rendering of the exterior of a new Queens jail included in the city’s plan to close Rikers Island. // Rendering courtesy of the Mayor’s Office

An artist’s rendering of the exterior of a new Queens jail included in the city’s plan to close Rikers Island. // Rendering courtesy of the Mayor’s Office


The public hearing, which the city has called the Queens Scoping Meeting, will enable community members to make comments as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.

The city will respond to comments and post them for community review.

In August, the city unveiled a ten-year plan to close Rikers and open 1,510-bed jails in every borough except Manhattan. The proposal depends on the city’s ability to reduce the population on Rikers to 5,000. On Aug. 27, the Rikers population was at 8,258, according to Department of Corrections data, though more than 2,000 of those people are bail eligible.

The Queens House of Detention once held up to 500 detainees awaiting trial before the Department of Corrections closed it as a cost-cutting measure in 2002.

The redevelopment of the Queens site — along with existing jails in Manhattan and Brooklyn and the construction of a new facility in the Bronx — requires a City Environmental Quality Review. The review is a legally required city process that “identifies and discloses significant adverse impacts on the environment, including noise, air quality, displacement, and traffic,” according to the city.  

Each of the four boroughs slated to host a so-called “borough-based jail” will hold a scoping meeting. Brooklyn held its meeting on Sept. 20.