You are reading

City Council Passes Constantinides’ Renewable Rikers Act, Paves Way for Renewable Energy Hub

Aerial photo of Rikers jail complex (NYCDOC)

Feb. 11, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The New York City Council voted to pass Council Member Costa Constantinides’ ‘Renewable Rikers Act’ Thursday, which moves the city a step closer to reimagining the island without jails.

The act is comprised of two bills sponsored by Constantinides. The first bill transfers control of the island from the Department of Corrections (DOC) to Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the second bill directs the city to conduct a feasibility study on the island’s potential to house and store renewable energy sources.

The passage of the Renewable Rikers Act follows legislation passed by the City Council in October 2019 that mandates the city to close the notorious jail complex in coming years. That legislation also requires the city to construct four borough-based jails to replace the complex–one in each borough with the exception of Staten Island.

Constantinides’ first bill passed today by a vote of 37 to 7, with two abstentions. The second bill, regarding a sustainability study, passed by a vote of 42 to 2, also with two abstentions.

The first bill requires every building or facility not actively being used by DOC to be turned over to DCAS over the next six years. DOC will be required to shut down jails on Rikers Island entirely by Aug. 31, 2027.

The second bill requires the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) to study the feasibility of building renewable energy sources and large-scale batteries to store the energy produced on the island. Such a plan would help the city reach its long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuel power plants, Constantinides said.

“These bills will offer the city a pathway to building a hub for sustainability and resiliency that can serve as a model to cities around the world,” he said.

The Renewable Rikers Act will also bring justice to those victimized by a racist criminal system on the island, he added.

“The 413 acres of Rikers Island have, for far too long, embodied an unjust and racist criminal justice system,” Constantinides said.

The two bills were developed with input from community leaders, environmental activists and criminal justice reform advocates, including those formerly incarcerated at Rikers Islands.

Many advocates celebrated the passage of the Renewable Rikers Act Thursday, including members of the Freedom Agenda, an organization comprised of people directly affected by incarceration.

“Today is a historic step in the right direction,” said Darren Mack, Co-Director of Freedom Agenda. “It took courage, commitment, and work to get us to this point; it is going to take a renewal of courage, commitment, and work moving forward towards our goals.”

A number of Queens council members, however, voted against one of the bills. Council Members Robert Holden, Eric Ulrich and Paul Vallone voted against the bill removing DOC control of Rikers Island.

Meanwhile, Council Member I. Daneek Miller abstained from voting on both bills.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Long Island City teen sentenced in fatal shooting of ‘beloved’ school teacher at Queensbridge Houses in 2020: DA

A Long Island City man on Friday, Jan. 28, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 2020 fatal shooting of a public school social studies teacher who was out walking his dog when he was caught in the crossfire during a confrontation between gang rivals in broad daylight, just blocks from his home, according to Queens District Attorney’s office.

Ike Ford, 19, of 12th Street, in Long Island City, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. The teacher, George Rosa, 53, was shot in his abdomen by a stray bullet fired by Ford, who was just 17 years old at the time of the shooting but was sentenced as an adult given the severity of the crime, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams explained that the school lost nearly a quarter of its students at the height of the pandemic due to the economic effects of the lockdown on low-income Queens households.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

These Queens eateries are participating in the upcoming NYC Restaurant Week

NYC Restaurant Week is underway, so nix that skillet and bring family and friends to your favorite neighborhood spot, or get inspired and break bread somewhere new and different. During this special citywide culinary event, food-lovers will enjoy curated menus and prix-fixe prices that are easy on the wallet.

Bookings began on Jan. 17 and are available until Feb. 12, and you can reserve a table at 30 participating Queens restaurants, along with hundreds more across the five boroughs.