2. It would also be a better cemetery
As councilman Rodriguez pointed out, New York is the only city where the public cemetery is run by the Department of Correction. In virtually every other cemetery in the country people can visit their loved ones without an extensive and intrusive coordination with the city agency that runs the prison system. Regular public access would let people visit their loved ones they way the rest of us get to – unescorted and on our own terms. On our previous regular visit to Hart Island (by going through the public process), the corrections officers were polite and respectful, offering information about Hart Island to visitors, but the security around access and low frequency of possible visits makes the space difficult to visit for the general public, let alone those who hope to pay respects to their loved ones.
The Hart Island project maintains an online database of people buried since 1980 and “assists families and individuals with limited resources in accessing public burial records and information concerning burial procedures on Hart Island, and increases public awareness of the history of Hart Island, the Potter’s Field in New York City through engaged storytelling.”