Cardinal Timothy Dolan joined other New York City religious leaders Thursday to endorse efforts to close down the violence-plagued Rikers Island prison complex.
"Rikers has got to go," Dolan, head of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, said outside Manhattan Supreme Court, Politico reports. "It is contrary to the Bible's teaching to treat folks like this so harshly.
"It's contrary to our American values of fairness and hope and justice," he continued. "And you know what? It's just plain contrary to common sense.
"In the name of our good God, let's tear down this place."
City officials are considering whether to close Rikers and replace it with four smaller jails, one in each of New York's five boroughs except Staten Island, Politico reports.
While proponents argue the plan would bring inmates closer to families and courts, opponents contend the new buildings would create location issues — while others say the city should not be opening any new jails at all.
Judge Jonathan Lippman, former New York state court chief judge who oversaw a panel that recommended Rikers' closing, said that increased violence made it "so much more urgent" for City Council to move on the closure plan.
A recent mayoral report showed that violence has increased at Rikers over the past year — among inmates, against staffers, and by officers using force on prisoners, according to Politico.
"Rikers is a stain on the soul of New York City," Lippman said. "Every day, human beings are suffering.
"If we don't do it now," he said of closing the complex, "it will be another 30 years."
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