UPDATE 5:51PM EST: Department of Correction spokeswoman Robin Campbell said Rikers Island can withstand a category 4 hurricane. More details below.

At a press conference on Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bloomberg told reporters to not worry about prisoners at Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex getting out. Rikers Island, sits, in the East River between Queens and the mainland Bronx—all areas that have been labeled with moderate and possible likelihood of being evacuated due to risk of flooding.

Natasha Lennard at Salon.com has more details and context on Bloomberg’s statement:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tellingly misinterpreted a reporter’s question during a pre-Sandy press conference Sunday. When asked about what would happen on Rikers Island — New York’s main prison complex - during the storm, Bloomberg responded, “Jails are secure … Don’t worry about anyone getting out.”

He did not consider that the journalist was in fact asking about the well-being of the near 17,000-strong inmate population, incarcerated on water-locked landfill.

The official permanent population of the island, as reported by the United States Census Bureau, was 11,355 as of 2009.

“Given its elevation, Rikers Island can withstand any storm up to and including a Category 4 hurricane,” Department of Correction spokeswoman Robin Campbell said in a statement. ” Rikers Island facilities are not in low-lying areas, and therefore like nearby small islands Roosevelt Island and City Island, is not seriously threatened by severe flooding.

The average daily inmate population of New York City Department of Correction (DOC) fluctuates between 12,000 and 17,000.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/10/bloomberg_dont_worry_about_prisoners_at_rikers_island.html


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