Mayor Signs Two Bills Regarding Rikers Island and Sustainability

Mayor de Blasio signs new bills on February 25, 2021. Image Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

The bills include a study of renewable energy generation and storage on Rikers Island. On February 25, 2021, Mayor de Blasio signed two bills regarding energy usage, sustainability and prospective planning on Rikers Island. Both bills were sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides.

The bills follow the City’s planned closure of Rikers Island as a jail complex facility and the construction of four borough-based jails across the city. The City is aiming to shut down Rikers Island as a jail complex by 2027 which has led to a growing discussion about what should become of Rikers Island after it is shut down. These two new bills help plan for the island’s future possible uses.

The first bill, Intro. 1592-A, transfers jurisdiction over inactive portions of Rikers Island to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. This includes all space that is not being used to house or provide services to incarcerated individuals. The transfer will begin on July 1, 2021 and will be completed by August 31, 2027. An Advisory Committee will also be established to provide recommendations for how to use Rikers Island for sustainability and resiliency purposes. The committee will include members who were at one point in custody on Rikers Island, members who had family that were at one point in custody on Rikers Island, environmental justice advocate members, and sustainability expert members.

The second bill, Intro. 1593-A, will require a study on the feasibility of adding renewable energy sources to Rikers Island. These energy sources could include wind and solar energy options and battery storage facilities. The study will be performed by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, run by Acting Director Kate Gouin.

Mayor Bill de Blasio stated, “As we drive a recovery for all of us, there is increased opportunity to reimagine public space. We also must ensure public servants keep our trust. These bills will create a better and more sustainable future for all New Yorkers.”

Kate Gouin, Acting Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability stated, “The Renewable Rikers Act is an important step in delivering restorative climate justice and a clean energy future for New York City. We look forward to studying and realizing the role Rikers Island and those impacted by our criminal justice system will play in our pursuit of a just and sustainable future for all.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides stated, “With the passage of the Renewable Rikers Act into law, however, we will finally close the book on the island’s brutal history. Now we can begin the work of fulfilling the promise of Renewable Rikers and bringing true restorative and environmental justice to the communities that have long suffered in its shadow.”

By: Patrick McNeill (Patrick is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)



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