A new report from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice predicts New York City’s current jail population will be cut in half by 2026, falling to its lowest rate since 1920, as crime continues to decline and the city looks for alternatives to jail time.

As of Sept. 2019, there were approximately 7,100 people incarcerated in New York City, down from 11,700 in 2013. The report attributed the drop in incarceration to an overall decline in crime and arrests, clearing old cases from the system, and finding alternatives to pretrial detention and city sentences.

“We are proving you don’t need to arrest your way to safety,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press release. “New York is telling a different story, one where we can keep fathers at home and kids in school and still be the safest big city in America.”

The report’s estimates for 2026 take into account the long-term decline in crime, a variety of new and recent policies aimed at reducing the jail population, and an NYPD focused on “precision policing.”

“The new city jail population estimate of 3,300 by 2026 reflects a new model of safety being built in New York City in which police, prosecutors and courts have lightened the touch of the criminal justice system while crime has continued to drop,” said Liz Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, in a press release.

A focus on eliminating recidivism has led to the implementation of the Jails to Jobs program in 2018, and the Fair Chance Act in 2015, giving formerly incarcerated people a better shot at finding employment after their release.

On Tuesday, de Blasio announced that going forward, everyone who goes through the corrections system will be given a transitional job when they leave jail.

“I think this is going to be a profound step to end recidivism,” said de Blasio. “We’re going to show folks who end up in the wrong place that we have faith they can get on the right track.”

The shrinking jail population has made it possible for the city to move forward with plans to close jail facilities on Rikers Island, which have long faced complaints of violence and corruption.

On Oct. 17, the City Council will vote on whether or not to replace Rikers Island jail facilities with four new facilities that the council says will prioritize staff needs and help incarcerated people to successfully reenter public life.

The proposed plan would ban jails from Rikers after 2026, and relies on New York City’s daily jail population dropping to 5,000.

WHAT THE LEFT IS SAYING: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio:

“The safest big city has the lowest incarceration rate of ANY big city in America. A smaller jail system and a focus on education and transitional jobs will get people on the right path and END the era of mass incarceration.”

WHAT THE RIGHT IS SAYING: New York City Councilmember Joe Borelli: “Does anyone believe this? Like as though there is some bean counter who just had a “eureka” moment… doesn’t this just call into question all the jail pop projections?”

Written ByGrace Symes

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