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New York City Will Close The Notorious Rikers Island Jail

But it will take a decade to shutter the facility, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that he backed a plan to close the notorious Rikers Island jail complex in 10 years, an effort aimed to end the era of "mass incarceration."

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The mayor announced the move based on the recommendations of a 97-page report by an independent commission led by by former New York state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

The commission recommended moving inmates off Rikers Island and into a series of smaller jails across New York City's five boroughs, the New York Times reported.

The mayor on Friday called Rikers Island an "expression of a national problem."

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"The mass incarceration era did not begin in New York City, but it’s going to end here," he tweeted.

Calling it a "historic decision," de Blasio said that the closure would "take a decade" and be a "long and arduous process."

New York City will close the Rikers Island jail facility. It will take many years. It will take many tough decisions. But it will happen.

Last year, de Blasio refused to endorse the "noble concept" of closing Rikers Island, saying it cost "many billions of dollars."

The jail facility has been plagued with problems and in 2014 was sued by federal prosecutors for alleged civil rights violations and a “deep-seated culture of violence."

"It is an historic occasion that for the first time in 85 years that we have an agreement to move off of Rikers Island," de Blasio said at a press conference Friday.

"Closing Rikers — it will happen, but it will be a difficult path and it will take us a decade."

The mayor gave a 10-year timeline for reducing the jail population to 5,000 people "in order for us to get off Rikers Island."

The goal in this whole process is to get our jail population down to 5,000 people. We believe that can be achieved in the next 10 years.

The mayor said getting the overall jail population down to 5,000 would "allow us to get to a point of complete departure of all inmates from Rikers Island."

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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