Shortly after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated last week that the city would close Rikers Island prison, Jay Z and John Legend were amongst many who celebrated the announcement.
According to The New York Daily News, Mayor de Blasio announced last Friday during a press conference that “it will take many years,” but that Rikers Island would eventually close. The notorious prison, which is known for things like intense police brutality, houses nearly 10,000 inmates. If closed, the population would likely be sliced in half while there would be more facilities opened across different boroughs.
Music artist/philanthropist John Legend shared his thoughts on Twitter by thanking the Mayor, The New York City Council and activist Glenn Martin for their “commitment to end mass incarceration.”
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Rapper/media mogul Jay Z, who produced six-part documentary TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, also shared commentary on the announcement while giving honor to Browder by calling him “a prophet.”
Twenty-two-year-old Kalief Browder spent years at the prison and a significant amount of time in solitary confinement after being wrongly accused of stealing a bookbag. After suffering physical and mental abuse, he later committed suicide shortly after his release from the prison. His brother, Akeem Browder, told reporters that “it wasn’t the walls or conditions at Rikers that killed Kalief… [but] the human beings behind the walls that abused and ultimately drove him to commit suicide.”
As PIX 11 News reports, members of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform shared how the closure of Rikers could drop the number of incarcerated people in the city by almost half.
“We’re closing a jail that’s past it’s shelf life,” said Nicholas Turner, president of the Vera Institute of Justice.