Violence on Rikers has spiked in recent years, despite a marked decline in the city's inmate population. Last year, approximately 9,000 people were held on the island on an average day. According to the city’s own reporting, a larger share of inmates in Rikers are now "more violent and difficult to manage."
The city is committed to closing Rikers and moving all inmates to county-based jails. Both critics and supporters of the plan agree that facilities on the island are outdated and dangerous--for prisoners and guards alike.
Rafael Mangual is the deputy director for legal policy at the Manhattan Institute.