New York

Rikers Gets New Program to Help Folks Stay Out of Jail


Okay folks, admittedly we’re kind of hard on the Correction Department. We’ve published a bunch of articles about bad goings on out in the Rikers Island jails in recent years. But this time, we’re going to throw some kudos to Commissioner Dora Schriro and Mayor Bloomberg for starting a new program to help prevent inmates from returning to jail once they are released. (Just under half of adult inmates who get out of jail go back within a year.)

The interesting angle on this program is that rather than sending ex-inmates to some bleak bureaucratic maze staffed by clock-watching functionaries who could care less, the new program has a built-in incentive. The groups providing the help will be paid based on how good they are at actually finding jobs for people, helping them earn high school diplomas, and getting them to stay off drugs, among other things. The Fortune Society and the Osbourne Association have been tapped to do the work.

Budgeted at $3.6 million, the program–called the Individualized Correction Achievement Network (yes, that’s right. I-CAN…Get it?)–will be rolled out in four jails first and expanded system wide by the end of the year. Officials think it could reduce recidivism by 10 percent. Pretty ambitious.

Eventually, the program will serve 2,270 inmates annually, targeting both detained and sentenced adult inmates who have a high risk of readmission, are 19 years of age or older, and are estimated to have a length of stay of 20 days or more, the Correction Department says.

Also notable: Bloomberg actually made a rare visit to Rikers Island for the announcement. Wow!

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