No Green Space in Sight at Bronx Youth Detention Center

(THE CITY) , June 28, 2019

The Bronx detention center that took in teens from Rikers Island is keeping them indoors during much of their recreation time, thanks to months of delays in opening a new exercise field.

The yard at Horizon Juvenile Center remains under construction eight months after youth started moving in following the “Raise the Age” law, which spared them from adult jails.

Meanwhile, scores of 16- and-17-year-olds are largely relegated to getting air in fenced-in patio-like areas, and rotating on alternate days through a pair of half-basketball courts and a courtyard. The main yard remains an expanse of dirt dotted with construction equipment, next to a partially finished full basketball court.

“I’m not sure what’s taking so long,” said Bryanne Hamill, a former Family Court judge who now sits on the city’s Board of Corrections, which regulates city jails and juvenile facilities.

“I’m delighted that the young people are off Rikers,” she added. But even on Rikers Island, Hamill noted, the prison had better recreation for teenagers.

Before their transfer, she noted, children received an hour daily of vigorous exercise and fresh air outdoors — “not just sitting in an inner courtyard.”