NYC Politician Slams Halved Mental Health Beds at New Brooklyn Jail as “Disaster”

NYC Politician Slams Halved Mental Health Beds at New Brooklyn Jail as "Disaster"

One politician in New York City called it a “disaster” for the city on Monday after the planned number of beds for mentally ill inmates was cut in half for the Brooklyn jail that is still being built on Atlantic Avenue.

Councilman Lincoln Restler asked the leaders of the city’s hospitals and health care systems how they planned to handle mentally ill people in jails across the boroughs once Rikers Island closed.

Noting that 55% of Rikers prisoners need mental health care, he said that the Brooklyn Detention Center will only have 22% of its beds set aside for mentally ill people, compared to the original plan for 44% of those beds.

“To go from 55% of total people to having mental health designation to only 22% of the beds actually being designed to meet their needs is a recipe for disaster,” Restler, a Democrat who represents downtown Brooklyn, said.

The questions came after a string of shocking crimes that were reportedly committed by repeat offenders with a history of mental illness. For example, Cyril Destin, 62, is charged with stabbing a tourist near Times Square on Saturday for no reason.

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Yesterday, another mentally ill man named Shaquan Cummings reportedly cut an 11-year-old boy in the head in Harlem without giving any warning.

Dr. Patsy Yang, senior vice president for health and human resources, said, “Correctional Health Services will do what it needs to do in the setting that it does.”

The City Council agreed in 2019 to close Rikers by 2027. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio backed this plan. Instead of the big central jail, the $8.7 billion idea would build smaller jails in every borough except Staten Island.

“That’s a disconnect that is so vast, that it’s hard for me to persuade my constituents that we’re actually going to do better and I hope that we can come up with an operational solution together that will inspire that confidence,” Restler added.

Some people say this will make it easy for family members to visit prisoners. Adams, on the other hand, has been worried about meeting the goal since he took office.

Others want a new mental hospital at Rikers to help the jail system handle more cases. It comes after Michael Alcazar, a former NYPD detective and adjunct professor at John Jay College, said the system was “broken.”

He talked about how a repeat offender known as “Ice Pick Nick” was caught many times, taken to the hospital for treatment, and then let go.

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