New York City’s Rikers Island jail is shrouded in a long history of violence, neglect, and inhumane living conditions. After the jail permanently closes in 2027, the city will enact new plans to transform it into a major green energy hub.
The city is transferring ownership of the jail and the island to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. From there, the department will install a green energy plan, labeled “A Plan for Renewable Rikers.”
By transferring ownership away from the Department of Correction, the city will be able to repurpose the 400 acres of land for positive use, including solar energy installations, recycling and composting infrastructure, and a wastewater treatment plant. The remodel would free up 182 acres of community space in Queens and the Bronx and boost clean energy supplies throughout the city.
“RPA is proud to build off the work of environmental and criminal justice advocates in presenting a plan to reimagine Rikers’ 400 acres as a green energy hub that strengthens the city’s resilience to climate change,” Moses Gates, the vice president for housing and neighborhood planning at the Regional Plan Association, said in a press release.
As well as providing environmental benefits by reducing the city’s reliance on more polluting sources of energy, the plan for the island also includes a new research and training institute that will give educational and workforce development opportunities to individuals who were formerly incarcerated at the jail.
“The bare minimum to start addressing Rikers Island’s horrific legacy is to ensure, as the jails there are closed, that the island’s future uses benefit and respond to the wishes of the people and communities that have been harmed through its long, painful history,” the Renewable Rikers campaign website states.