Transforming an Infamous Prison into a Green Oasis

Our prison system is the largest in the world. Not only is it served by a judicial system that is proven to be discriminatory but it is also contributes to global warming, which in turn disproportionately impacts minority and under-served communities.

Yet, as we are reminded just often enough, change is possible…

“In New York, a coalition of environmental justice activists, architects, politicians, and formerly incarcerated people are currently advocating for a radical transformation of one of the world’s largest and most infamous jails: Rikers Island. The 413-acre island sits in the East River between communities of color, like Mott Haven and Hunts Point in the South Bronx and East Elmhurst in Queens. Most of the island is currently occupied by the jail and a psychiatric facility.”

“The long-term plan is to install a giant solar farm and a wastewater treatment facility on the island, both of which are intended to primarily serve nearby poor communities of color. Energy generated on the farm will power these communities and eliminate the need for “peaker plants” — small natural gas power plants designed to work during peak hours — in those communities. The wastewater treatment facility will replace the crumbling wastewater infrastructure serving communities of color in the South Bronx, northern Queens, and Upper Manhattan.

Investing in renewable energy and wastewater treatment will also create jobs for people in the communities of color surrounding Rikers Island”



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