Rikers Island in New York City

by Nick David

Rikers Island in New York CityRikers Island is located in New York City and is one of the world’s largest and New York’s main confinement facilities otherwise known as jail. It is not considered a prison since it houses offenders of lesser sentences than prison inmates. It is home to more than 14,000 inmates daily and occupies the entire island. There are around 10,000 correctional officers employed by the New York City Department of Corrections.

 

 History of Rikers Island
The island is named after Dutch settler Abraham Rycken. Rycken made his home on Long Island back in the 1630’s. New York City purchased the island from Rycken in 1884 for close to $180,000 and has been used as a correctional facility ever since.

 

 During the Civil War the island was used as a training ground for the military with the Ninth New York Infantry as the first regiment to utilize the space in 1861.

 

The original building was finished in 1935 and was called the House of Detention for Men; it became a maximum safety facility named the Thomas Center and closed due to issues with its structure in 2000.

 

In the 1950’s a landfill was added on the island enlarging the island by 415 acres. This helped the facilities to expand. The House of Detention for Men otherwise known as HDM was the original building that was completed in 1935 that has become a maximum security building that later closed in 2000 due to structural issues.

 

Facilities on Rikers Island
There are 10 correctional facilities on the island today that make up the complex with more than 100,000 inmates incarcerated last year. Otis Bantum Correctional Center, Rose M. Singer Center, Anna M. Kross Center, Robert N. Davoren Complex, George Motchan Detention Center, North Infirmary Command, James A. Thomas Center, Eric Taylor Center, West Facility and the George R. Vierno Center are the different housing facilities.

 

Each of the 10 facilities house different criminals depending on the severity level of the crime committed. Mostly there are local offenders that cannot obtain bail and are waiting for trial and have a one year or fewer sentences.

 

The Taylor facility houses only male adults and adolescents and Kross, Bantum, Vierno and Motchan detain male adults only. Female adults and adolescents are housed at the Singer facility and the West detain inmates that are contagious who have diseases and other medical needs.

 

Most of the facilities were built more than 60 years ago with many of them being constructed from the Staten Island ferries.

 

Schools, Churches and other religious organizations, clinics, barbershops and supermarkets have been implemented on the island to accommodate the needs of visitors and staff.

 

Visiting Rikers Island
Many visitors are absorbed with the history of Rikers Island and tend to want to visit when visiting New York City. Although it is located on a not so attractive landscape, this is overlooked for the interest in the facilities. You can reach the island by the Q101 bus, privately owned ferries and by car. More than 1,500 tourists visit Rikers Island daily. Visitation hours vary with more information found on the website.Click here to read more on Rikers Island

 

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