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Press Releases

Mayor Adams Announces Progress to Improve Care and Services for People in Custody, Advances Plans for Future Uses of Rikers Island

Adams Administration Announces $14 Million for Enhanced Programming Initiatives to Support People in Custody as They Return to Their Communities

NYC Health + Hospitals to Move Forward witha Construction of More than 350 Outposted Therapeutic Housing Beds

Administration Announces Completion of Feasibility Studies on Potential of Building Renewable Energy Infrastructure on Rikers Island

Mar 04, 2024

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced progress on several jails-focused initiatives to provide greater care and enhanced programming for people in custody and released two feasibility studies on potential sustainability uses of Rikers Island. The city will invest $14 million to enhance programing initiatives for people in custody. Mayor Adams also directed NYC Health + Hospitals to move forward with construction of more than 350 outposted therapeutic housing beds that will increase access to specialty health care services for people in custody while moving those who are most clinically vulnerable off of Rikers. Additionally, the administration announced the completion of the Feasibility Study for a New Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility on Rikers Island and the Renewable Rikers Feasibility Study Report, required under local law, that assess the potential building of renewable energy infrastructure on Rikers Island.

“Ensuring dignity, safety, and care of all justice-involved New Yorkers is a top priority for our administration and today’s announcement will provide greater access to specialized medical care for people in our custody, as well as delivering much-needed resources to support those who are preparing to return to their communities,” said Mayor Adams. “While our commitment to the success of our jails is unwavering, we are also planning for the future of Rikers by releasing these studies that asses the feasibility of bringing renewable energy infrastructure to the Island.”

“As we implement plans to house incarcerated New Yorkers with greater dignity and care, we must also envision a future for Rikers Island — one that supports New York’s significant energy and sustainability needs,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “This is an opportunity not only to reimagine a better criminal justice landscape in this city, but a better environmental justice landscape too.”

“The investments announced today show the administration’s commitment to support the whole-person through difficult life transitions and thereby strengthening our communities overall,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “As New Yorkers engage with and transition from the justice system, they will receive support ranging from workforce development, transportation, community connections, educational opportunities, housing assistance, and health care, among others. Additionally, we will open hundreds of beds in outposted housing units that will serve those with specialized clinical needs. Thank you to all involved in this multi-agency effort to walk with people as they build productive, fulfilling lives.” 

“Programs providing education, health and wellness, and transitional services are essential for improving the safety of our jails and creating better outcomes for those in our care and custody,” said New York City Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie. “Investments in programming can lead to reductions in violence, lower rates of recidivism, and pathways to higher education and employment.”

Enhanced Programming on Rikers Island

Mayor Adams today announced $14 million in funding for DOC to increase programming initiatives for people in custody in New York City jails. Building on the department’s commitment to addressing the needs of individuals in its care, DOC identified five key areas to bolster support for people in custody. Initiatives to receive funding include:

  • Trauma-Informed Programming: DOC will ensure improved access to trauma-informed care for people in custody through the creation of a social work, mental health, and creative arts therapy team that supports learning opportunities for graduate-level students. Trauma-informed programming will be available to sentenced individuals and detainees with specialized needs.
  • Transition Planning Programming: DOC will invest in transition planners who will be assigned to each general population housing area and at intake at a higher frequency to ensure consistent assistance to navigate reentry challenges and establish a foundation for long-term stability. Transition planners stationed at the facility’s intake will serve as a crucial point of contact prior to discharge, mirroring a hospital model for a seamless transition to the community. Transition planners will facilitate reentry workshops, assist in resume development, and support individuals transitioning to state prisons.
  • Substance Misuse Programming: Funding for substance misuse programming will ensure the provision of substance use education and support groups, as well as support transition planning specific to substance misuse. Substance misuse programming will be available to sentenced individuals and detainees with substance misuse needs. In 2023, 4,266 individuals self-reported drug use.
  • Supplemental Educational Programming: Funding for supplemental educational programming will ensure the provision of basic literacy, numeracy, general education diploma preparation, and English Language Learner services and college readiness, as well as tutoring for people in custody.
  • Transportation Programming: DOC will offer transportation to community-based services to people upon discharge, making it easier for people to access emergency housing, employment, substance misuse services, and family reunification. Discharge transportation will enable DOC to provide critical support during the at-risk period immediately following incarceration, decreasing the likelihood of recidivism.

Outposted Therapeutic Housing Units

The Adams administration is also moving forward with construction of outposted therapeutic housing units at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull and North Central Bronx as part of its commitment to increasing access to specialty care services for people in custody while moving the most clinically vulnerable people off of Rikers. The units will house patients who have serious medical, mental health, and substance-use needs and would benefit from a more structured, clinical environment. DOC will provide security and custody management in the units, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services (CHS) will continue to be the primary provider of care, in closer coordination with hospital specialists.

Construction is already underway at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, the first of the three units, with anticipated completion by spring 2025. Construction of the units at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull and North Central Bronx will be completed in summer 2027, assuming timely completion of design and barring significant unforeseen field conditions. Construction of all units is fully funded, with a total capital investment of $718 million, and will comprise approximately 360 beds, depending on final designs. All three hospitals will benefit from an infusion of funds to renovate and repurpose hospital space to create the outposted therapeutic housing units. NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull recently relocated and renovated its inpatient pediatrics unit, and upgraded other clinical and administrative spaces, to prepare for the construction of the outposted unit.

Studying The Future Use of Rikers Island

As the Adams administration continues to explore the future development of Rikers Island, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice (MOCEJ) today released two feasibility studies assessing the possibility of using the island’s available buildable land to help the city and state achieve shared clean energy goals, while investing in the city’s infrastructure and repurposing Rikers Island to advance climate justice. Both studies offer an alternative to older wastewater infrastructure and present solutions that would contribute significantly to the city’s climate and energy transition goals.

As required by Local Law 31 of 2021, DEP completed the “Feasibility Study for a New Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility on Rikers Island,” which concludes that the construction of a new state-of-the-art Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) on Rikers Island to consolidate operations of four existing facilities is both viable and presents a unique and transformational opportunity for DEP’s operations.

As required by Local Law 17 of 2021, MOCEJ completed the “Renewable Rikers Feasibility Study Report,” which assesses siting of renewable energy infrastructure on Rikers Island. It includes an evaluation of five different scenarios to achieve cost savings, emissions reductions, and energy performance goals, and presents a preferred scenario that includes a combination of solar, battery storage, offshore wind interconnections, and a WRRF.

“The city has an opportunity to reimagine how Rikers Island can serve New Yorkers,” said New York City Chief Climate Officer and DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “The DEP and MOCEJ studies present options that would turn Rikers Island into a center of state-of-the-art green technologies that would help us achieve our energy, air quality, and water quality improvement goals.”

“‘Renewable Rikers’ was born out of the idea that the future of Rikers Island can contribute to a sustainable and resilient New York City and provide benefits to New Yorkers who have been most impacted by our criminal justice system,” said MOCEJ Executive Director Elijah Hutchinson. “Our research found Rikers Island has the potential to be a home for solar installations, battery storage systems, and offshore wind interconnection infrastructure, helping New York City reach its world-leading, ambitious climate goals. We look forward to working with the Rikers Island Advisory Committee and stakeholders, who first put forward the vision of a renewable Rikers.”

“The Outposted Therapeutic Housing Units are an innovative approach to carceral health care, and we are thrilled to advance this groundbreaking model,” said Dr. Patsy Yang, senior vice president for correctional health services, NYC Health + Hospitals. “The initiative is also a testament to the strength and commitment of the NYC Health + Hospitals system in caring for all New Yorkers, particularly the most vulnerable.”

“Investments in programming and therapeutic beds are essential components of an overall commitment to safety for staff, people in custody, and the broader public,” said Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Director Deanna Logan. “I look forward to working with my colleagues at the Department of Correction, NYC Health + Hospitals, and all other city agencies that are dedicated to realizing Mayor Adams’ vision of a safe and fair criminal justice system in New York City.”



Media Contact: City Hall Press Office212-788-2958