There were no big surprises at the Community Board 9 meeting Tuesday night as members cast an advisory vote condemning the city’s borough-based jails plan, which would place a facility in Kew Gardens.
The City Planning Commission will now review the plan and the recommendations from respective community boards in four different boroughs before deciding whether or not to certify the city’ ULURP application.
But while most of the attendees agreed that borough-based jails were not in the best interests of neighborhoods, agreement fell apart when it came to how accused criminals and those serving short sentences will be dealt with in the future.
Malka Fraenkel, a Kew Gardens resident, was baffled by activists present at the meeting who are calling for Rikers to close with no new jails to take its place.
“Some people in Rikers are there because of hardcore crime. What do you do with those people?” Fraenkel said. “Say someone has killed your child, murdered … I just want to know what you do with these people. I don’t understand if they have an answer because that’s total bullsh*t.”
Will Depoo from Desis Rising Up and Moving, an immigrant rights group, said that the vision of groups most aversely effected by mass incarceration are seeking alternative facilities to jails and prisons that would address underlying motives for violent crime.
“If folks are really concerned for people who do commit harm, there are community alternatives that are transformative justice-based,” Depoo said. “Like dealing with harm without putting people in cages … There are other cities where they have survivor-informed and trauma-informed community alternatives where the survivor is in involved.”
This would still involve keeping individuals in some form of centralized confinement, but would not be a jail or institution.
Depoo believes that the funds that would be used to revamp the corrections facilities in the city should be instead be invested into programs to ease poverty in black and brown communities to prevent crime in the first place.
The Kew Gardens jail proposal is a 1.2-million-square-foot building that will include a facility to house all the women in the city in one location with a maternity ward and nursery.
It will also have over 600 parking spaces in a garage on the premises.