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    • Rikers Island is the world's largest penitentiary complex in the world. In 2017, New York officials approved a multi-billion-dollar plan to close the prison and build smaller jails in the city's most populated districts.
    • The Rikers Island jail complex was opened in 1932 and was originally meant for male prisoners.
    • Lawyers have been calling for Rikers' closure, citing its age and regular violent incidents against both inmates and guards. The jail is set to close in 2026.
    • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio first spoke about plans to shut Rikers in 2017. The era of mass incarceration is over, de Blasio said.
    • This file photo shows a solitary confinement cell at New York's Rikers Island jail. At the urging of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York state announced several years ago that it would adopt new standards for solitary confinement.
    • These are items awaiting an incoming inmate at the Brooklyn Detention Complex as seen during a media tour of the facility. This jail was re-opened in 2012 to reduce the burden of the Rikers Island complex.
    • Inmate Nikos Alexis loads fresh dough into an oven at the Rikers Island jail bakery. He was part of a team of 20 inmates who earned some money baking thousands loaves of bread to feed a huge number of prisoners – in 2011 there were about 13,000 men and women behind bars.
    • Critics of the plan to replace the Rikers complex with smaller jails say the money should be better spent on fighting the causes of crime.
    • Inside the world's largest prison, the Rikers Island correctional institution.
    • This photo shows a group of inmates leaving the jail bakery after completing a morning shift in March 2011.
    • Rikers Island is a New York jail notorious for its infamous inmates such as John Lennon's killer Mark Chapman, rapper Tupac Shakur, serial killer David Berkowitz and former International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
    • Inmates at the Rikers Island juvenile detention centre listen as Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons speaks, Thursday, July 31, 2014, at the facility in New York. Simmons, founder of the RushCard Keep the Peace initiative, was accompanied by L.L. Cool J and other entertainers to the detention centre to offer advice to the inmates on reducing violence in their neighbourhoods.
    • A Tupac Shakur Two-Page handwritten & signed letter from prison to the Deputy Warden of Rikers Island Prison for auction at Gotta Have It! store on July 19, 2017 in New York City. Shakur was sentenced to prison on sexual-assault charges in 1995.
    • The plan to replace the prison complex with smaller jails is strongly rejected by New Yorkers who do not want to have a prison close to their homes.
    • The Rikers Island jail complex has places for inmates to pray. This file photo shows Imam Menelik Muhammad standing beside the Quranic prayer on a wall facing Mecca.
    • According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, after closing the Rikers jail the next step will be to better integrate prisoners into the community after their sentences are over.
    • Under the plan, when the Rikers jail complex is closed it will be replaced with smaller neighbourhood jails, some of which would also include community spaces, ground-floor retail and affordable housing.
    • Rikers Island jail complex stands under a blanket of snow on January 5, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City.
    © AFP 2019 / Emmanuel Dunand
    Rikers Island is the world's largest penitentiary complex in the world. In 2017, New York officials approved a multi-billion-dollar plan to close the prison and build smaller jails in the city's most populated districts.

    Rikers Island is a New York jail notorious for its infamous inmates such as John Lennon's killer Mark Chapman, rapper Tupac Shakur, serial killer David Berkowitz and former International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

    Earlier this week, New York's city council voted in favour of Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposal to close the Rikers Island prison complex and replace it with four smaller jails in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Manhattan.

    Rikers Island is one of the world's largest jails as it is located on a 167-acre island between Queens and Bronx and holds some 7,000 inmates. Most of them are awaiting trial or serving sentences shorter than one year.

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    John Lennon, United States, prison reform, Rikers Prison
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