CRIME

Rikers Island closing: NYC panel set to recommend shutting down prison

A blue-ribbon panel led by former New York state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman will recommend closing Rikers Island — and potentially replacing it with a series of new jails spread across the city’s five boroughs.

A blue-ribbon panel led by former New York state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman will recommend closing Rikers Island — and potentially replacing it with a series of new jails spread across the city’s five boroughs.  (Reuters)

A blue-ribbon panel led by former New York state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman will recommend closing Rikers Island — and potentially replacing it with a series of new jails spread across the city’s five boroughs, The Post has learned.

The 10-year plan also calls for slashing Rikers’ population by putting hordes of jailbirds back on the streets under “supervised release,” a source familiar with the commission’s work said Thursday.

The violence-plagued correction complex is currently home to around 10,000 inmates, about 80 percent of whom are locked up awaiting trial.

When asked for comment before the sit-down, Lippman said: “We’re close. We’re keeping everybody informed, taking feedback and we’re almost ready. Soon. Once we have a report, you’ll get the report. Soon. We’re very close.”

But panel member Herbert Sturz, chairman of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, confirmed that “the report will support the closing of Rikers.”

Lippman convened his Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform last year at the request of City Council Speaker Mark Viverito, who has called for Rikers to be shut down, a position endorsed by Gov. Cuomo.

Earlier last year, de Blasio publicly rejected the idea of closing Rikers, calling it a “noble concept” but saying it would cost “billions and billions of dollars” and leave the city with nowhere to lock up its hordes of jailbirds.

One team, from HR&A Advisors, has been developing a proposal that includes replacing the jail complex with a third runway for La Guardia Airport, a sewage-treatment plant and a garbage transfer station, the source said.

The other consultants are identifying potential locations for new jails that would distribute the inmates evenly across the boroughs, the source said.

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