One of the world’s most notorious jails is being re-imagined as a center for green energy which will free up land for community use and train former inmates for clean energy jobs. Rikers Island, located on a 400-acre island in New York City, houses most of New York’s 5,700 prisoners but must close by 2027, with inmates transferred to four new prisons. The Regional Plan Association has proposed that solar arrays, battery storage and new wastewater facilities, a composting and recycling hub, and a research and training institute arming front-line communities with new skills in solar installation and repair, be located on Rikers. Noxious power and sewage treatment plants in deprived neighborhoods in the Bronx and Queens would be removed, freeing up 182 acres for community use.

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