Brooklyn House of Detention Expansion Halted by Lawsuit

A New York Daily News article reports that in response to a lawsuit filed in the Kings County Supreme Court, the city has agreed not to move any more prisoners into the Brooklyn Detention Center. Attorneys for a coalition of citizen groups and local politicians, known as “Stop BHOD” (Brooklyn House of Detention, as the jail is also known), brokered the agreement with the city’s counsel to halt expansion of the jail or the transfer of new prisoners while the suit is pending. The group has an online petition to stop the re-opening and expansion of the jail.

Among the plaintiffs in Stop BHOD v. City of New York are Brooklyn Councilman David Yassky and City Comptroller William C. Thompson. The suit was filed after the Department of Correction transferred a work detail of 30 prisoners into the jail, located on Atlantic Avenue between Smith Street and Boerum Place. Comptroller Thompson issued a press release and a letter to Mayor Bloomberg urging the city to reverse the decision to re-open the Brooklyn House of Detention and to redirect the nearly half a billion dollars to the construction of desperately-needed school facilities.
The DOC decision to budget $440 million for renovations and expansion would double the jail’s capacity. Its transfer of prisoners was the first time since 2003 that they have been housed there overnight. Citizen and neighborhood association opponents of the plan claim that returning the jail to full use would damage the local community and believe that the site should be used for affordable housing and for a public middle school for local residents. They also allege that the city acted inappropriately by transferring inmates into the jail without informing the public of the planned renovation. The suit also alleges that the city broke the law by not submitting its plan to an analysis of environmental and community impacts.
Randy Mastro of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher represents the plaintiffs in their lawsuit against the city. He filed a stipulation of adjournment with consensual emergency relief components when the parties appeared before Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix with both sides agreeing that no new prisoners would be transferred into the jail. The proceedings are adjourned until December 18.