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NYC councilman warns of ‘disaster’ after mental prison beds cut

Metro


A New York lawmaker warned Monday of a “disaster” for the city after the number of proposed beds for mentally ill inmates was cut in half for the jail under construction on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

Councilman Lincoln Restler questioned city health and hospital officials about how the city is prepared to handle mentally ill suspects in borough jails once Rikers Island is closed.

He noted that 55% of Rikers inmates need mental health treatment and that the Brooklyn Detention Center is expected to have only 22% of beds for mental illness patients, a drop from funding initial 44% of beds.

Council member Lincoln Restler told City Health and Hospital how the city is prepared to treat mentally ill suspects in the jails once Rikers Island closes. William Farrington
He noted that 55 percent of Rikers inmates need mental health treatment and that the Brooklyn Detention Center should only have 22 percent beds for mental illness patients. GNMiller/NY Post.

“Going from 55% of the total population on a mental health credential to only 22% of beds actually designed to meet their needs is a recipe for disaster,” said Restler, a Democrat who represents downtown Brooklyn .

The questions follow a series of shocking crimes allegedly committed by serial offenders with a history of mental illness, including Cyril Destin, 62, accused of stabbing a tourist near Times Square on Saturday during a totally unprovoked attack.

On Friday, Shaquan Cummings – another mentally ill patient – ​​allegedly punched an 11-year-old child in the head in Harlem without warning.

A jail cell inside the Rikers Island Correctional Center. Chad Rachman/New York Post
In 2019, the City Council approved closing Rikers by 2027 – with the support of former Mayor Bill de Blasio.

H&H Senior Vice President Dr. Patsy Yang said, “Correctional Health Services will provide what it needs in the context in which it does so. »

“That’s what’s being done now, in the Rikers facilities, and we will certainly do it in the new jails,” Yang added.

“But we are designing a prison in which 22 percent of the beds will actually meet their needs,” Restler countered.

“It’s such a wide gap that it’s hard for me to convince my constituents that we’re actually going to do better and I hope we can find a working solution together that will inspire that confidence.”

In 2019, the City Council approved closing Rikers by 2027 – with the support of former Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The $8.7 billion project would replace the central jail with smaller detention centers in every borough except Staten Island.

Advocates said it would make it easier for inmates’ family members to visit.

But since Adams took office, he has repeatedly expressed concerns about meeting deadlines.

Some are also calling for the creation of a new psychiatric hospital at Rikers to ease pressure on the prison system.

The $8.7 billion project would replace the central jail with smaller detention centers in every borough except Staten Island. REUTERS

This comes as Michael Alcazar, a retired NYPD detective and adjunct professor at John Jay College, described the system as “broken.”

He noted how a repeat offender nicknamed “Ice Pick Nick” – who was featured in The Post on Sunday – was arrested multiple times and taken to hospital for treatment, before being released.

It wasn’t until the Post began investigating that prosecutors levied charges hefty enough to require bail — and keep him behind bars.




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