New Brooklyn Jail Expected to Have 885 Beds, City Says

Brooklyn Detention Complex, 275 Atlantic Avenue (Photo: Pamela Wong/BKLYNER)

Brooklyn’s new jail is expected to have 885 beds in 2026, when new “borough-based” jails are up-and-running, city officials say. The current capacity is 815 beds. The capacity of Brooklyn’s new borough-based jail will be equal to new jails in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, for a total citywide of 3,300.

The “borough-based” jails are the city’s controversial plan to replace the jail complex at Rikers Island by adding new facilities in each borough (except for Staten Island) to rehouse Rikers’ inmates. The City Council is expected to vote in favor of the plan on Thursday. 

The city’s estimate forecasts its jail population will decrease by more than 50 percent from today’s population of about 7,000, as a result of criminal justice reform measures at the city level, such as diversion programs, and at the state level, such as bail reform.

“Just a few years ago, the Lippman Commission’s projection of a 5,000 average daily population was considered by many to be overly optimistic,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement. “To now reach 3,300 is an extraordinary achievement, and the culmination of years of hard work to move away from the failed policies of mass incarceration.”

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According to the plan, the new Brooklyn jail will take place of the current Brooklyn Detention Complex (BDC) in Boerum Hill, which would be demolished. The BDC currently houses about 360 inmates, according to the New York Post. The city wants to move the inmates from BDC to Rikers to fast-track the demolition. The new jail will be part of a mixed-use building and contain 1,150 beds based on current plans, and could ascend almost 40 stories in the air. The current jail can house about 815 inmates.

The new jail population estimate may lower the jail heights and number of beds the city is requesting in its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice said.

A spokesperson for Johnson declined to comment.

Brooklyn Community Board 2, which covers the location of the proposed jail, has twice voted to reject the construction of the new, expanded jail, and opposition has been intense at both the hyperlocal and citywide level for various reasons. While many residents have voiced concerns about having a large building in their neighborhood, and a jail in particular, others have called for the city to close Rikers and not replace it, adopting “no new jails” as a rallying cry.

UPDATED to reflect that 885 beds will be the capacity of the new jail, though they only expect to detain no more than 825 people in Brooklyn. We originally reported 885 inmates.

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Ben Brachfeld

Ben Brachfeld

Ben Brachfeld is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn. His work has also appeared in Gotham Gazette, City & State, and Gothamist. Reach out to him via email at benbrachfeld@bklyner.com, or on Twitter @benbrachfeld.

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