Cumbo, Fox Weigh In On Closing Rikers Island

Kings County Politics asked District 35 City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) and her upcoming opponent Ede Fox about one of the most contentious and talked-about issues facing their district: the plan to close Rikers Island, which Mayor Bill de Blasio and City COuncil Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito are spearheading.

Both Cumbo and Fox were asked whether they supported the plan to ultimately shut the facility down, and whether they would be willing to house inmates awaiting trial in their district. Here were their responses:

City Council Member Laurie Cumbo

Cumbo: “I support the movement to close Rikers Island. I also believe more information and research is needed to understand the best way to gradually close this facility.

“Rikers Island is a dysfunctional facility with a dangerous environment for those awaiting trial, correctional officers, and staff. The tragic suicide of Kalief Browder and the passing of his mother, who is said to have died of a broken heart, exemplify how Rikers Island can break an individuals spirit and destroy a family.

“I do not believe that the 35th Council District is an appropriate community for absorbing individuals awaiting trial because of its density, the recent addition of homeless shelters – which defies the Fair Share Act – and existing shelters.  Our administration should look for other Districts that have not been overburdened.”

Ede Fox

Fox: “I do support it. I think theres a lot of issues with Rikers. First of all, Im fully in favor of reducing the population of Rikers no matter what happens. In addition, I think its helpful to decentralize and bring the population of Rikers back to the individual boroughs, making their relationships with their families easier and more accessible.”

Fox pointed out that the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform already has a plan laid out to accommodate inmates awaiting trial, and asserted that she supports that plan.

“As I understand the plan, the idea would be to take existing infrastructure and upgrade it to serve as a local detention center within each borough. With the right amount of capital and infrastructure, we could achieve that end.”

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