Brooklyn Detention Center again accepting prisoners

February 16, 2012 6:51:40 AM PST
The Brooklyn Detention Center closed its doors in 2003. But now, the Department of Corrections has re-opened the facility because it needs the space.

The Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn has changed dramatically over the past nine years. What used to be parking lots and gas stations is now condos and restaurants. And residents are a bit uneasy about the jail re-opening its doors.

The center proudly re-opened its doors last week, showing off sparkling clean inmate cells and visitors area. The facility has started accepting prisoners, and it will eventually house more than 750. The center takes up a full block on Atlantic Avenue, right across the street from the sleekly designed Nu Hotel and nearby restaurants.

Residents are biding their time to see how their new neighbor works out.

"It was an eyesore when it was built anyway, so I think it kind of devalued the neighborhood," resident Wanjairu Machua-Thairu said. "But where are they going to put people? Take them to Manhattan? I mean, their not going to be able to fill the jail anyway. So...It's a jail."

The Department of Corrections desperately needed the space to get the numbers down on Rikers Island.

"What we're doing is relocating individuals, inmates from Rikers Island who have active cases here, primarily in Brooklyn and to a lesser extent in Richmond County, Staten Island," DOC Commissioner Dora Schriro said. "They're escorted through a tunnel, a secure tunnel, to and from court."

Residents are worried about what else the detention center will bring.

"How are visitors handled and what is the surrounding community going to expect in terms of load and visitors and traffic, etcetera," said Howard Kolins, of the Boerum Hill Association.

There is very tight security, with cameras on the perimeter and a uniformed officer patrolling outside. The neighborhood association and the DOC have opened up a dialogue in hopes that if any problems arise that can be dealt with quickly.

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