BROOKLYN — A local leader who is looking to shut down Rikers Island and boost education in central Brooklyn hopes to make his vision a reality at the City Council.
Cory Provost, 32, is in the running to fill the 41st Council District seat to represent eastern Bedford-Stuyvesant, East Flatbush, Crown Heights and Ocean Hill-Brownsville.
The East Flatbush resident and current leader of Brooklyn’s 58th State Assembly District aims to fill a “void” in the area by addressing criminal justice reform and bringing educational resources to public housing developments in neighborhoods including Brownsville, he said.
In Brownsville, 28 percent of adults have not completed high school, compared to 21 percent in Brooklyn and 20 percent citywide, according to city figures from 2015. Absenteeism is also an issue, with 40 percent of public school students in kindergarten through fifth grade chronically absent during the 2013-14 school year.
The jail incarceration rate in the area is the second-highest in the city, behind Morrisania and Crotona in The Bronx, and the injury assault rate ranks No. 1 with 180 non-fatal assault hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to 2015 data.
As one of the central platforms of his campaign, Provost is pushing to have Rikers Island closed, he said.
“I think it’s been a travesty what’s been happening at Rikers Island for so long,” he added. “There’s always talks of reforming it but you still have stories like Kalief Browder and young men and women who get lost in the system.”
Getting rid of the jail would be a “boon” for the Brownsville community, he added.
“The amount of money spent on Rikers for every individual, that money should go back into that ZIP code [Brownsville’s 11212] to help build nonprofit organizations or other community and civic groups.”
Provost said closing the jail would be a “big undertaking” that would start off “with identifying legislatively what we can do to move forward.”
To improve the state of education in the district, public housing developments could make their community centers available and partner with local institutions such as Brooklyn College to reach residents, he suggested.
Provost, who grew up in Bed-Stuy and Ocean Hill, said he aims to bring unity to the neighborhoods.
“There’s so many areas of negativity that often surround the community. Oftentimes on the news it only shows up when there’s a shooting,” he said.
“It suffers from a lack of representation, a lack of unity, not everyone is on the same page. ... I think I can play a big role in bringing people together.”
As District Leader, he has helped host post-election forums to discuss the impact of the current Trump administration, along with anti-violence rallies in the community, he said.
The Brooklyn College graduate also serves as secretary of East Flatbush’s Community Board 17.
If elected, he would replace Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, who has served the district since 2005 and cannot be re-elected due to term limits.
Provost is slated to face off against candidates such as Community Board 3 District Manager Henry Butler and Brownsville community activist Deirdre Olivera in the Sept. 12 primaries. The general election is set for Nov. 7.