Cardinal Timothy Dolan is throwing his weight behind the push to shut down Rikers Island.
“Rikers has got to go,” the archbishop said on Thursday in his first public showing of support for the plan to shutter the notorious city jail.
“It’s just plain contrary to common sense to keep spending billions of dollars on a complex that not only doesn’t work, but happens to worsen things," he said, flanked by other religious leaders outside of New York Civil Supreme Court in lower Manhattan.
“We in the clergy are happy to admit that we are hardly pros in the intricate details of this proposal to close Rikers Island — but we are experts in the protection of human dignity and the common good of the community.”
Dolan’s announcement comes just weeks ahead of City Council vote to approve a land-use proposal to close Rikers and build four new borough-based facilities.
“At heart, this is a moral issue,” said Judge Johnathan Lippman, chair of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform that drafted the borough-based plan, who stood alongside Dolan near the courthouse steps. “This is about respect and dignity and ending this dehumanization.
“(We saw) an uptick in the violence at Rikers, which makes (this) so much more urgent,” Lippman added, referring to statistics published in the Mayors’s Management Report released earlier this week that show a marked surge in jail violence.
“Our faith leaders ... recognize that now is the moment, this is a once-in-a-lifetime historic opportunity to close this horrible place and replace it with something that we can at least be proud of," he said.