Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik argued Friday that calls from Mayor Bill de Blasio to close the infamous Rikers Island Jail will waste $8 billion, end up turning out inmates into the city, and will not happen by the mayor's 2026 timeline.
"It's ludicrous," Kerik told Fox Business' "Mornings with Maria." "I said it from the beginning. The problem they have is they have enormous violence, they have a lot of violence, stabbings and slashings and internal corruption, mismanagement, incompetence. You need different leadership, you need somebody to control the violence, and changing facilities is not going to do that."
De Blasio's plan calls for putting new facilities in the city's four boroughs, Kerik said.
"Staten Island is pretty smart," he added. "They already said 'we're not doing this, we're not taking one. So those facilities have to go into the boroughs. They can't get homeless shelters approved in the boroughs. So who wants a facility in your borough with up to 3,000 inmates? It's going to have the worst of the worst inmates in the system."
As Rikers Island is a jail, not a prison, most people there are awaiting trial, not serving a sentence, and the average length of stay is 30 to 54 days unless the charge is homicide or another major crime.
"At the end of the day, that's not up to Rikers; that's up to the courts," Kerik said. "If the courts and judges are doing their job, if the mayor forces them to do their job, that number stays down."
Kerik said when he was in office, there were 22,000 prisoners on a daily basis, but there was less violence than there is now.
"The problem is the management of the system," he said. "They need new leadership. They need real management. They need accountability. That's what they need. They don't need to change the facilities."
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