Closure of ‘The Prison Ship’ Marks New York City’s Correctional Reform Effort
New York City’s Last ‘The Prison Ship’ Set to Close: The End of a Three-Decade Era in Correctional History
According to source, New York City’s Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center, known as the prison ship, the last operating prison ship in the United States, is set to close, marking the end of a three-decade era. The prison ship, notorious for its harsh conditions and criticized as a symbol of the city’s struggle to reform its correctional system, will be vacated by the end of the week as part of a plan to replace the city’s troubled jail system with smaller facilities, although most inmates will be transferred to Rikers Island for the time being.
The prison ship, officially named the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center, a five-story jail barge, arrived in 1992 as a temporary solution to alleviate overcrowding on Rikers Island, the city’s main jail complex.
Over the years, it has garnered notoriety for its numerous issues, including deaths of detainees, severe overcrowding, and subpar living conditions. Advocates have called it a “modern-day slave ship” and long argued for its closure.
The Prison Ship Closure Marks a Turning Point in Correctional Reform
The use of maritime jails in the United States has historically been controversial, with allegations of cruelty and neglect dating back to the Revolutionary War. In recent decades a series of floating jails, including the prison ship were deployed as a cost-effective solution to rising incarceration rates. The prison ship was previously closed and reopened for various purposes but now it is shutting down for good.
The closure of the prison ship is seen as a step toward reforming New York City’s correctional system which has faced mounting scrutiny and criticism for its outdated and problematic facilities. Despite this development many advocates argue that the ongoing use of Rikers Island as a temporary alternative is not a satisfactory solution and that broader reform efforts are needed to address systemic issues in the city’s correctional system.