NYC to close Rikers jail complex

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that he began the process to close the notorious campus of prisons known as Rikers Island.

As reported by USA TODAY, Rikers Island has been operating for 85 years and sits near LaGuardia Airport.

It will take up to 10 years before the vast complex is completely eliminated and prisoners are shuttled off to other facilities.

“New York City has always been better than Rikers Island,” De Blasio said. “I am proud to chart a course for our city that lives up to this reality.”

Complaints about living conditions have stirred up Rikers for decades, but have become more prevalent after the June 2015 suicide of Kalief Browder. Browder was a teen who spent three years at the complex for allegedly stealing a backpack, though he never stood trial and was never found guilty.

Previous administrations approached the idea of closing the complex, but the next step was never taken,

“It’s just a really place that doesn’t foster rehabilitation and instead reinforces the kinds of behavior that get people in trouble,” former Rikers inmate Glenn Martin said. “It reinforces the message that you have no value.”