Jail guard’s union boss blasts plan to move teens off Rikers

Rich Calder

The head of the city’s correction officers union says the $300 million plan to move teenage inmates off Rikers Island is seriously flawed.

Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, told The Post Friday he believes Mayor de Blasio’s initiative to move 200 16- and 17-year-olds at Rikers to the Horizon Juvenile Center in The Bronx would simply “shift a problem from one ZIP code to another.”

“What the Department of Correction must do is differentiate between violent and nonviolent inmates — and because we haven’t been looped in, we aren’t sure if they plan to do that here,” he said.

“For the most violent offenders, though, we need an actual plan to deal with them — not just shuffling where we put them.”

He also said the city would be better served spending $300 million on initiatives aimed at keeping teens “out of jail than it does to spend it on keeping them in jail.”

As part of a 2015 settlement with the US Justice Department requiring reform at problem-plagued Rikers, de Blasio announced this week that the city was allocating $170 million to renovate and modernize Horizon on Brook Avenue in Mott Haven to accommodate older teens.

The city’s juvenile centers have a long history of problems.

The renovations include adding space for indoor and outdoor programming, such as a garden teens could tend, as well as more educational facilities.

Horizon currently holds troubled 14- and 15-year-olds, who would have to be relocated to Crossroads Juvenile Center in Bushwick, Brooklyn, if the older teens were moved there. The city does not house younger teens in the same lockups as kids 16 and older who are prosecuted as adults.

The Bushwick facility will undergo its own renovation so it can hold all of the city’s sentenced 14- and 15-year-olds.

The city had already budgeted $129 million for that project before de Blasio’s latest announcement, according to officials.

Mayoral spokesman Austin ­Finan said the move from Rikers is long overdue.

“For almost a century, 16- and 17-year-olds have been misplaced in an adult jail on Rikers Island,” he said. “It’s high time we delivered on the improvements and reforms our youngest detainees need.”

He also said new state-of-the-art facilities “will save millions in the long-run while curbing the cycle of violence.”

The plan to move older teens out of Rikers is expected to take four years.

Moving the kids directly from Rikers to Crossroads was not a viable option because Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, whose district includes the Bushwick facility, vehemently opposed that idea, sources said.