DOC Transfers First Rikers Facility to DCAS
The transfer of the James A. Thomas Center (JATC) on Rikers Island is a “major milestone” in the move towards safer and more modern borough-based jails.
East Elmhurst, NY –Effective July 1, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio authorized the transfer of the New York City Department of Correction’s (DOC) James A. Thomas Center (JATC), the oldest correctional facility on Rikers Island, to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). Now that the department’s transfer of the property has been accepted, DCAS owns JATC. This reaffirms the City’s commitment to shutter Rikers Island and create new, modern borough-based jails.
DCAS, along with the Rikers Island Advisory Committee, will have the authority to plan and coordinate a use for the facility that is sustainable. As required under the Renewable Rikers Act, DOC will transfer portions of Rikers Island to DCAS every six months until August 31, 2027, at which point all portions of Rikers Island will be fully transferred to DCAS. The Department is currently discussing which portion of Rikers Island will be transferred to DCAS next.
Formerly the House of Detention for Men, JATC was renamed in honor of the Department’s first African-American warden. The 1,200-bed, 468,129 square foot facility was built in 1933 and was the island’s first permanent jail. The facility closed in 2012.
“Closing Rikers Island and ending the era of mass incarceration is a moral imperative,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Transferring these facilities from DOC to DCAS brings our plan to create a smaller, safer, and more humane jail system even closer to reality.”
“This is a major milestone in the historic plan to close Rikers Island and create safer, fairer, and more modern borough-based jails,” said DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi. "Being able to close Rikers and create borough-based facilities is a natural result of our City's multifaceted efforts to reduce its jail population and end the era of mass incarceration. DOC continues to make great strides and I am confident that we will become an outstanding example of what a correction department should be.”
“When I was incarcerated on Rikers Island, I was housed in JATC, so this a deeply meaningful moment for me,” said First Deputy Commissioner of Programs and Operations Stanley Richards. “Closing Rikers and creating borough-based jails will help us to transform the jail system into one that is safer for both members of service and people in custody. Our new borough-based jails are being designed to promote increased safety, increased programming, and opportunities for rehabilitation.”
"Today marks a historic occasion for ending mass incarceration in our city and re-imagining Rikers Island," said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. "DCAS is eager to do its part to build a brighter future by transforming Rikers Island into a hub for sustainability."
“Today's announcement is the most recent example of this administration's continued commitment to historic criminal justice reform," said Marcos Soler, Director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice. "By closing Rikers Island and building smaller, borough-based facilities, we are investing in community-driven public safety and working to improve conditions for people who come in contact with this city's jails."
The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment while providing individuals in our care with a path to successfully re-enter their communities. The Department provides for the care and custody of people ordered held by the courts and awaiting trial or who are convicted and sentenced to one year or less of jail time. DOC manages 8 facilities housing people in custody,7 of which are located on Rikers Island. The Department also operates two hospital wards (Bellevue and Elmhurst hospitals) and court facilities in each borough.