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Closing New York City’s troubled jail complex on Rikers Island will take at least a decade and will require a big decline in the inmate population, a continued drop in the city’s already low crime rates, a wellspring of funding and political capital, according to a strikingly blunt proposal that Mayor Bill de Blasio intends to unveil on Thursday. A 51-page report Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to reveal Thursday solidifies his stance on closing the troubled jail complex on Rikers Island. The plan, laid out in a 51-page report, solidifies the mayor’s stance on closing Rikers, a goal that he was reluctant to embrace and that a few years ago seemed politically and practically unfeasible. Mr. de Blasio came out publicly in support of closing Rikers only in April, after increasingly well-attended protests and calls from civic and political leaders, including the City Council speaker, who created an independent commission that unveiled its own plan for closing Rikers three months ago. The report describes a “credible path” that “will not be easy,” a message intended for the mayor’s critics who have demanded that he move more quickly to shut down Rikers and end the abuses that continue to plague it. “It would be much simpler for us to tell people what they want to hear and say we can achieve this goal quickly and easily, but we won’t do that,” Mr. de Blasio writes in the introduction. “Instead, we are realistic.” Crucial to the plan’s success, the report says, is driving the inmate population at Rikers down to 5,000. The current average daily population, 9,400, is already at a historic low. For much of the 1990s it hovered around 20,000. City Hall estimates that the population can be cut by an additional 2,400 in the next five years through changes in the bail system and the expansion of jail diversion programs, among other initiatives. But reducing it would depend on more fundamental changes in the city’s criminal justice system. Crime rates would have to be driven down still further and case processing times reduced significantly for people charged with violent offenses, who typically spend the longest time at Rikers. The way the city deals with people accused of serious crimes would also have to be rethought. This could mean keeping people charged with felonies, even violent ones, out of jail, fitting them with electronic monitors or confining them to their homes. “In order to get there, it will require a really seismic change in the way in which people think about violent offenses and the willingness of New Yorkers to accept that,” said Elizabeth Glazer, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said he was optimistic about shrinking the jail population because many of the innovations required to do so were already underway. His office has allocated $14 million for a supervised release program in all five boroughs and another $30 million for re-entry programs aimed at preventing people from returning to jail. Even if the population reaches 5,000, the city will have to build new jails outside Rikers and renovate existing ones in Brooklyn, in Manhattan and elsewhere, a politically fraught topic that the report barely touches. Instead, nearly half is devoted to planned efforts to shore up the crumbling infrastructure at Rikers so it can remain standing for the next 10 years, even as city officials work to shut it down. This would include $1 billion in capital improvements and more housing for people with mental health problems. By the end of the year, the city hopes to finish installing thousands of surveillance cameras, which research shows help prevent violence. The city will also spend $100 million to build a training academy for correction officers to replace the current one housed in a Queens shopping center. New Yorkers will be able to monitor the city’s progress on the proposal on a new website: nyc.gov/rikers. The city’s already low crime rates would have to be driven down further and case processing times reduced significantly in order to close the jail complex, the report says. Even as the mayor looks to the future, immediate problems at Rikers must be addressed. The correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte, was forced to resign last month after revelations that he and his top aides had misused their city-issued cars and accusations that the department’s head of internal affairs had spied on city investigators while they were looking into the matter. His successor has yet to be chosen. Stabbings and slashings among inmates continue to be a problem and will most likely get worse as the temperature rises. “This is really a much bigger thing than simply closing Rikers,” Ms. Glazer, of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, said. “We devoutly hope and are working hard to get to that goal, but all these things — population reduction, culture change and rehabilitation, and building the physical plant — are all things that have to happen no matter what, and they have to happen now.” The mayor’s proposal comes nearly three months after an independent commission that was led by New York’s former chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, and created by the Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, released its plan to close Rikers. That plan is similar to the mayor’s in many respects, including its 10-year estimate, although the commission called for the construction of new jails in all five boroughs, something the mayor has refused to commit to. Ms. Mark-Viverito said she looked forward to working with the mayor on the project and urged his administration to immediately begin exploring options for building community-based jails. Less conciliatory was Glenn E. Martin, the president of JustLeadershipUSA, part of a coalition of activist groups that have protested Mr. de Blasio’s events around the country over what they see as his unwillingness to act more quickly to shut down Rikers. Mr. Martin said that 10, or even five, years was too long to wait and vowed to continue protesting. “Any elected official, including the mayor, who continues to stand in the way of speedy movement toward closing Rikers will continue to feel the wrath of the Close Rikers Campaign,” he said. source