City & State New York - The drumbeat to close Rikers Island’s jails has reached a deafening pitch, and for the first time New York City has an official plan to do it. The lead author of the report detailing Rikers Island's closure, former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, joined the podcast on Monday, April 17, along with Greg Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation, who also worked on the report.
Despite his rhetoric calling Rikers Island “a stain on our great city,” Lippman refused to put blame on any one group for the poor conditions at Rikers.
“I think the days of the criminal justice system pointing fingers at each other and saying, ‘You’re responsible, you’re responsible’ are over,” he said. “Whether it’s the courts themselves, the D.A., the prosecutor, city corrections, all of the different players – the defense bar – we all have to work together to get this done.”
Berman agreed, saying they’re in the business of finding allies.
“The remarkable thing is that we’re at a unique window of opportunity right now in New York City,” he said. “People understand the horrific damage that Rikers Island has done for generations.”
Lippman and Berman also talked about how they became “radicalized” on shutting down Rikers Island and how they’re dealing with tough opposition from NIMBYs, correction officials and politicians.