Brooklyn Councilman Expresses Alarm Over Inadequate Mental Health Provisions In New Jail

New York City Councilman Lincoln Restler confronted city Health and Hospital officials on Monday about their plans to treat mentally ill inmates at the new Brooklyn detention center. Restler warned of a potential “disaster” as the number of beds designated for mentally disturbed suspects has been slashed in half compared to initial funding.

According to Restler, 55% of inmates at Rikers Island require mental health treatment, but the Brooklyn jail is only set to have 22% of beds for mentally ill patients. He argued that this vast disconnect between the needs and the planned facilities is hard to justify to his constituents.

The concerns arise in the wake of several shocking crimes allegedly perpetrated by repeat offenders with a history of mental illness. Dr. Patsy Yang of H&H stated that Correctional Health Services will provide the necessary care in the new jails as it does now on Rikers, but Restler remained skeptical.

The City Council approved closing Rikers by 2027 and a $8.7 billion project to build smaller jails in each borough except Staten Island. However, Mayor Eric Adams has expressed doubts about meeting the deadline. Some are calling for a new Rikers psychiatric hospital to relieve pressure on the jail system.

Retired NYPD detective Michael Alcazar described the current system as “broken,” citing the case of a repeat offender nicknamed “Ice Pick Nick,” who was repeatedly arrested and released without adequate treatment or charges.