With Closure of MCC Federal Prison, it’s High Time to Reopen Park Row [OP-ED]

Posted on: August 30th, 2021 at 5:09 am by

Photo: Bureau of Prisons

Is this what Chinatown has been waiting for?

The U.S. Department of Justice last week announced that the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) on Park Row is closing, largely due to lax security and infrastructure problems that have long plagued the facility.

The prison, situated in a complex of government buildings in lower Manhattan, currently has 233 inmates, down from a normal population of 600 or more. Most of them are expected to be transferred to a federal jail in Brooklyn.

MCC housed many infamous inmates over the years, including Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Mafia boss John Gotti, close associates of Osama bin Laden, and Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff. Yet, it was the death of child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein a month after his arrest in 2019 that became a breaking point for a facility already battling squalid conditions and a rotating list of wardens.

While billed as a temporary sidelining, it’s high time the Feds close it permanently and re-open Park Row.

Park Row was a main artery from the Brooklyn bridge into Chinatown until the September 11 terrorist attacks. Thereafter, the road was closed due to security concerns, and evolved into a security zone closed off to traffic. Efforts by the community and local electeds to re-open the thoroughfare have only yielded a bike lane and pedestrian path.

Over the ensuing twenty years, it’s been a game of finger-pointing – the city blames the feds, who in turn blame Police Headquarters at 1 Police Plaza. But now that the MCC will be closed and detainees relocated, the time is now to seize the day and reopen Park Row.

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