The City of New York has initiated the closing of Riker's Island, to be completed by the year 2027. We cannot help but think about what the use of the island is now, what it once was and the real implications of this closing on a localized scale. This closing comes in the form of the decentralization of the prison facility and redistribution of its inmates to new ones. The impact on the proposed communities, where these facilities will be, could be quite substantial. There is little knowledge of how these communities will receive the expanding correctional facilities in their neighborhoods. With the island’s history of violations against human rights, inmate escapes, incidents of physical violence, and the distribution of inmates being planned for 4 out of 5 boroughs, this comes with much risk. Property values, insurance rates, and even future incarceration rates all need to be accounted for if these plans are to be truly effective.
Precedents show that islands which act as extensions of institutional control, such as Ellis and Roosevelt Islands, are often repurposed after serving their initial intent; Ellis, a gateway into the city now celebrated as an icon of diversity and Roosevelt, a place for disease control and isolation, now a place associated with peace and residence. Following in that same vein of thought, Riker's - also being one of these extensions of institutional control, has the potential to live out its time after the decentralization as something newly beneficial to the city. But will this deeply-troubling history live on by way of this surface-level solution.