Oct. 17 (UPI) -- New York City councilors are expected to approve a plan Thursday to shut down the notorious Rikers Island prison facility as part of a broader $8.7 billion plan to build four new facilities closer to the courts.
The plan calls for the closure of Rikers Island, New York City's primary correctional complex, by 2026. The sweeping strategy is expected to receive overwhelming support at the councilors' meeting Thursday.
Opened in 1932, Rikers Island has become notorious for violence. Three prison guards were charged in 2015 with beating a sick inmate to death and two female inmates filed a class-action suit earlier that year claiming a prison guard had raped them repeatedly.
"Mass incarceration did not begin in New York City, but it will end here," de Blasio said this week. "We are proving you don't need to arrest your way to safety."
City officials said closing Rikers Island and building smaller facilities makes practical and financial sense, as the number of overall inmates has declined.
At least 25 of the 51 councilors must approve the plan.
The proposal has so far received widespread support, and some criticism.
"This effort was led by people touched by the criminal justice system" said councilor Keith Powers. "Ultimately this is about closing down a piece of history that should be long forgotten."
"I firmly believe that we need to close Rikers, but this plan misses the mark," Brooklyn councilor Rafael Espinal countered. "I cannot approve spending $8.7 billion on new jails, without a plan that would match the investment dollar for dollar in at-risk communities like the one I represent."