UPDATE: A city panel is expected to release a recommendation April 1, 2017 that urges the closure of Rikers and the opening of smaller jails around NYC, according to published reports.
THE BRONX — Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week there was "no concerted effort to look for sites for an alternative to Rikers Island."
But city documents show that five city agencies produced a presentation for First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris titled "Alternatives for Rikers Island."
The presentation, which DNAinfo New York has posted below, was given to Shorris, the second-highest ranking city official, in October. City Hall also examined a plan to shut down Rikers as recently as last month, according to sources.
DNAinfo exclusively reported last week that City Hall had been studying a plan to move inmates off Rikers Island into new neighborhood jails and renovated or expanded borough detention centers.
But de Blasio denied the story during a news conference last week.
“It’s not accurate to begin with," de Blasio said, adding "there’s no concerted effort to look for sites for an alternative to Rikers Island."
But the analysis in question was put together by the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, Department of Correction, the Department of Design and Construction, the Economic Development Corporation and the Office of Management and Budget.
The analysis focuses on building two 2,000-bed jails — with one next to the newly opened NYPD police academy in College Point, and the other in Hunts Point next to the city's jail barge.
The presentation to Shorris also shows that the city's Economic Development Corporation identified other possible sites to build new jail facilities in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Those sites are city-owned land on Forbell Street in Lindenwood, the former Brooklyn Union Gas Co. site in Greenpoint, public land along Arthur Kill Road in Charleston and the Teleport in Bloomfield.
The presentation also provides a description of the sites, the names of the City Council members and state Assembly members who represent the sites and the public transportation options to get to and from the locations.
"We were looking pretty heavily at options to close Rikers," said one source who worked on the analysis but asked not to be named to protect relationships. "We had looked up a ton of possible sites around the city and state and I think it was seriously under consideration."
De Blasio spokeswoman Monica Klein still denied there was "any active effort to look for sites," when given a copy of the report.
"The administration has examined the feasibility of closure in the past and determined there were numerous, significant challenges associated with this notion, which the Mayor has publicly discussed," Klein said.
Klein refused to discuss whether the mayor was presented with the analysis, how the analysis affected his decision-making process or even whether he was aware Shorris had received a presentation on the analysis.
The presentation offers two options for closing Rikers. Both involve building two new facilities and then either renovating or expanding houses of detention in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens to create between 6,100 and 7,400 beds.
The presentation also shows that each plan would take seven years and cost between $3.1 billion and $3.5 billion. Eventually, though, the Correction Department would save more than $500 million in operating costs.
However, sources said more recent plans examined by City Hall put the cost of building two jails and renovating borough detention centers at $7 billion. And the total phase-out of Rikers could also take up to 30 years, the sources said.