Friday, March 10, 2006

Yes. It's For Real. Brooklyn House of Detention Seen as a Jail With Retail

PAUL von ZIELBAUER in The NYTimes

"By almost any measure, the Brooklyn House of Detention, 10 stories of razor wire and wire-mesh windows in Boerum Hill, is a repellent sight. But, the city reasons, it need not be so. So, to attract people other than criminal suspects to the 760-bed jail, the Correction Department has decided to convert part of the complex into 24,000 square feet of retail shopping space. [...]

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Mr. Horn said, "enthusiastically" supports the redevelopment plan, part of a $240 million reconception of the jail that will most likely also add more cell space. Mr. Horn declined to say exactly how many more inmates a bigger Brooklyn jail would hold. [...]

Mr. Markowitz, who is known to gush about how great Brooklyn is, said that even a boutique hotel on jail grounds would be nice — but only if the city razed the existing structure and rebuilt it from scratch.

"If it's designed in such a way that the guests feel totally comfortable," he said yesterday, "why not?"

Mr. Markowitz added that although he would prefer to see the jail closed permanently, if it is to be open it should also have retail and, preferably, residential space.

"Let's make it something that we never would have dreamed about," he said.

Retail experts said a deluxe supermarket would do well in the neighborhood, a nexus of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn.

"Food would be a very important component there," said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a retail consulting and investment banking firm based in New York. "Coffee would be critical. From there, you might go to something jeans-oriented, or footwear."

And, of course, Mr. Davidowitz added, "a home store." (more)

8 Comments:

At 11:15 PM, Anonymous hollowentry said...

That's going to give me nightmares tonight. But thanks for posting this.

said the correction commissioner: "One way or another, retail is going to be there."

At what point do projects prisons and shopping malls all start becoming difficult to distinguish from the outside, except for who is doing what inside them?

 
At 11:32 PM, Blogger hysterical blackness said...

No clocks, time passing, learning nothing, expending more than you can or should, for whom and why?

What distinguishes the prison from the shopping mall? Who can leave and who can't, who is property who has property?

It'll be really great when there are debtors prisons again (see a post on debtors prison in La) and those inprisoned for the inability to pay their credit card debts will be housed in the shopping mall. And maybe the cells will be transparent enclosures so that the desired objects will always be in view and out of reach of the prisoners and the prisoners will be in view of the consumers. (If it's designed in such a way that the guests feel totally comfortable," he said yesterday, "why not?") So shopping for will be like smoking -- you know it can kill you but what pleasure.

As Mr. Markowitz says, "Let's make it something that we never would have dreamed about."

 
At 11:38 PM, Blogger hysterical blackness said...

"Whatever the Correction Department decides, mixing the jail space with retail, or even a restaurant, is a brilliant idea, said Gary Alterman, executive vice president of Newmark Knight Frank Retail. "It's a good retail area, it's strong, it's healthy, it's residential," he said. "The criminals are not coming out to go shopping, but certainly there's going to be plenty of visitors there."

From "Prisoners Up Above, 'Nifty-Gifties' Down Below," in NY Times

 
At 1:29 AM, Anonymous hollowentry said...

sorry, I don't think I was clear. I only meant that the outside architecture might no longer signify from a distance whether a building is a prison or also a shopping mall. I didn't mean that prisoners are just shoppers or something equally stupid, but that rhetorical question I wrote looks stupid.

 
At 8:06 AM, Blogger hysterical blackness said...

Hollowentry - i understood what you meant and I agree with you. Then I thought i'd play out the difference.

 
At 10:58 AM, Anonymous hollowentry said...

re: my reading and writing at 1:30am. oof.

"It'll be really great when there are debtors prisons again (see a post on debtors prison in La) and those inprisoned for the inability to pay their credit card debts will be housed in the shopping mall. And maybe the cells will be transparent enclosures so that the desired objects will always be in view and out of reach of the prisoners and the prisoners will be in view of the consumers. (If it's designed in such a way that the guests feel totally comfortable," he said yesterday, "why not?") So shopping for will be like smoking -- you know it can kill you but what pleasure."

That image is somewhere between satire and truth (I guess that's just what good satire is). I used to live next to a prison. I'd go for shopping, or a walk, or whatever, and there up on the tower there would be a guy with a rifle looking down into the yard at people I couldn't see, and then over the other side out to the rest of the world that anyone incarcerated couldn't see. I never threw anything at the guy with the rifle. To be honest the guards terrified me. But I still went shopping and home.

This was in Kingston, Canada, where they are now opening 'Guantanamo North':

30 Mar 2006** (Estimated date). Canada opens terror suspect prison
Dubbed "Guantanamo Lite" and "Guantanamo North"

KINGSTON, ONTARIO. 30 Mar 2006** (Estimated date). The high-security detention center is being built near Kingston to house foreign terrorism suspects. It has space for only six inmates, and is already attracting United Nations human rights attention.

Its initial occupants -- all Arabs -- are detained under the federal government's controversial security certificates. All are suspected of being allied to Islamic extremists, but none has been charged with a crime. The "Guantanamo" nickname was inevitable, though the United States Guantanamo prison is many times bigger and more controversial.

The certificates pertain only to non-citizens believed to pose a security threat. Canadians accused of terror-related offences must be charged under the Criminal Code.

After touring Canada in 2005, a United Nations human-rights group, said it was "gravely concerned" about the use of security certificates. The objections centered on the detainees' right to a fair hearing and their ability to challenge the evidence used to hold them, portions of which are often kept secret. Nor is there any mechanism for a judicial review of the circumstances of incarceration.

The four are: Algerian-born Mohamad Harkat, Syrian-born Hassan Almrei, Egyptian-born Mohammed Mahjoub and Mahmoud Jaballah. Adil Charkaoui of Morocco, who was held from May 2003 to Feb 2005, is free on bail in Montreal. All are resisting deportation on grounds that they fear persecution if sent home.

Prisoners will be kept separate from other inmates at all times; there will be absolutely no contact, according to a prison official quoted in Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper.

The self-contained unit is under construction behind the walls of maximum-security Millhaven Penitentiary, one of two facilities within the region that houses a maximum-security population.

Millhaven was opened prematurely in April 1971 as a result of the riot at Kingston Penitentiary, which Millhaven was originally intended to replace. During the period 1977-1984, Millhaven operated a Special Handling Unit (SHU) along with its general maximum-security population. In 1990, it commenced its current dual role, housing a reception facility, as well as a general maximum-security population. Feb/06

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger hysterical blackness said...

Hollowentry thanks for that. Maybe it's the sign of bad satire.

Thanks for the article. Somehow I missed the opening of "Guantanamo Lite."

I'll post it to the front of the blog.

 
At 8:43 PM, Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

wow, as someone who has been thrown into dealing with the jail system in nyc, this is very disturbing. i don't care how you fancy it up, it's still a horrible place. i, personally, would not want to eat in a space that (ware)houses people. all of this money...for what? will the DOC get a cut? and if so, will they amp up the educational and vocational programs inside the detention center?? probably not. more stacking of black/brown bodies, less care and concern of how to rehabilitate them for their journey back to the outside.

i'm disgusted.

 

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