New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams will renew a years-old push to permanently close Rikers Island at 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 crisis for years and official demands to close it date back to one of Adams’s predecessors, former council president Melissa Mark-Viverito, who called for its closure in a State of the City address she delivered at 2016.
Mark-Viverito’s push to close the troubled jail complex was followed by a plan to create new jails in four of the five counties, with the exception of Staten Island. But that plan remains stalled.
In her speech, which is scheduled for noon Wednesday at Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses and Community Center in the Bronx, Adams will highlight the fact that her mother worked as a corrections officer on Rikers Island.
He is also expected to make the argument that Rikers Island does more harm than good because it has been turned into a warehouse for the mentally ill who would have a better chance of rehabilitation in a facility more suited to their needs.
Adams, who is not related to Mayor Eric Adams, is also expected to propose an expansion of the city’s fair fare program, which allows commuters living below the federal poverty line to ride the subway and bus at half the price.
Under that proposal, the city would expand eligibility for the program by making it available to city residents who earn less than twice the federal poverty line.