New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams will renew a decades-long push to permanently close Rikers Island in her annual State of the City address Wednesday, according to a council source with direct knowledge of the matter.
The prison complex has been in disarray for years, and official demands for its closure date back to one of Adams’ predecessors, former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who called for its closure in a 2016 State of the City speech.
Mark-Viverito’s drive to close the troubled prison complex was followed by a plan to create new prisons in four of the five boroughs, with the exception of Staten Island. But this plan remains deadlocked.
In her speech, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Home and Community Center in the Bronx, Adams will highlight the fact that her mother was a warden at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility.
She is also expected to advance the argument that Rikers Island does more harm than good because it has become a warehouse for the mentally ill, who will have a better chance of rehab in a facility more suited to their needs.
Adams, who is not affiliated with Mayor Eric Adams, is also expected to propose an expansion of the city’s Fair Fares program, which allows commuters living below the federal poverty line to ride subways and buses at half price.
Under this proposal, the City will expand eligibility for the program to include City residents whose income is less than twice the federal poverty threshold.