Benedetto, Gjonaj, TNCAP say ‘no’ to 2800 Bruckner drug plan
(l-r) Michael Gjoni, Brianna Cohn, Deborah Teska and Nydia Rivera showed their lack of support for a rehab program in Throggs Neck.
Photo by Fernando Justiniano
Bronx panel groups: ‘Close Rikers & the Sink the Barge’
Community members raising their hands to being affected by having family members who have been to Rikers Island or are currently there.
Photo by Kasey Rodriguez
whether or not the 320 Concord Avenue
site was the appropriate location
for the new prison facility.
The executive director of Bronx
Connect, Reverend Wendy Calderon
supports the concept of the Mott Haven
jail and the borough-based jail facilities,
“We need Rikers to close down, we
have a commitment from the current
BRONX TIMES REPORTER, M BTR AY 17-23, 2019 3
BY ALEX MITCHELL
Bronx advocates are pushing the
city to close Rikers Island and Hunts
Point’s Vernon C. Bain jail barge by its
2027 goal, if not quicker.
Three community groups known as
Bronx Connect, Bronx Defenders and
the Close Rikers Campaign held a community
forum about the jail system in
Betances Center at 547 E. 146th Street
on Monday, May 13.
A panel of criminal justice reform
advocates spoke to the nearly full community
center. Each speaker had spent
time on either Rikers Island or on the
Bain jail barge, sharing personal experiences
that supported the planned
One panelist, Marvin Mayfi eld had
protested the jail barge with Councilman
Rafael Salamanca, Jr. in 2018.
After spending time in the dilapidated
facility for a non-violent offense,
Mayfi eld knows fi rsthand why NYC
needs to ‘sink the boat.’
“I think the crime should fi t the
punishment. Being forced on the barge
is a cruel and unusual one,” said Mayfi
eld. “Once you arrive it takes about
a day and a half before you can get to
a bed, if you can call it that, it’s really
just a metal slat,” he added.
Mayfi eld explained how the barge
was intended to be a temporary solution
for prison overcrowding during
the 1980s, caused by the war on drugs.
“It’s open still in 2019, that’s not
temporary,” he continued.
Other inhumane conditions that
Mayfi eld cited as part of a larger abusive
culture were: claustrophobic
spaces, a lack of fresh air and having
windows that were ‘just for show’ and
couldn’t be open, in addition to strip
searches where unwanted touching
The closure of the Bain facility is
contingent on the phase out of Rikers
Island according to Mayor’s Offi ce
of Criminal Justice deputy director
“Honestly, if you get everyone off
that boat it’ll sink itself,” Mayfi eld
said, joking about its poor condition.
He and the other panelists discussed
similar criminal justice issues,
such as the importance of cash bail reform
and ways to reduce the inmate
Also discussed that evening was
Continued on page 81
BY ALEX MITCHELL
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto
and Councilman Mark Gjonaj sent a
joint letter to Albany opposing a proposed
drug treatment facility at 2800
Miracle City recently announced
its intent to operate a state-licensed
822 behavioral treatment counseling
service at the Throggs Neck building,
which has been the subject of local protests.
Another rally is set for this Saturday,
May 18 at noon.
They plan to lease 50 percent of one
fl oor in the stand-alone 2-story offi ce
As an 822 program, regulated by
the NYS Offi ce of Alcoholism and Substance
Abuse Services, Miracle City
would be providing counseling services
to clients affl icted with eating
and drinking disorders, and drug addictions.
Even though a representative of
Miracle City indicated its current application
does not include dispensing
any narcotics, it could do so at a later
date by fi ling additional paperwork to
the proper regulating governmental
agencies, community leaders learned.
Benedetto and Gjonaj’s letter to OASAS
Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-
Sanchez, addressed a number of con-
Continued on page 81