Jail population down 18% since Mayor took office
Mayor de Blasio today announced that by the end of this year, every person in the Department of Correction’s custody will receive re-entry services to help connect them with jobs and opportunities outside of jail, as well as five hours of programming per day during their stay to address vocational, educational, and therapeutic needs. The Mayor also reiterated major reductions in the jail population in the last three years.
“Everyone deserves a second chance. We’re working to break the cycle of returning to jail for those in City custody by making sure they have opportunities to learn and grow while in jail, and connecting them with the re-entry services to support a pathway to stability when they leave,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Re-Entry Services for All Detainees by End of 2017
Re-entry services are critical to preventing recidivism and ensuring that people leaving DOC custody have opportunities to embark on a productive and stable path. The City is building a system in which every person who enters city jails will be provided with new tools and services that will help to promote a stable future. By addressing vocational, educational, therapeutic and other needs in an individualized way, time inside jail can be used productively to lay a foundation that can prevent future interaction with the criminal justice system.
The administration’s new system will begin with expanded risk and need assessment on the first day that someone enters jail, offer five hours every day of programming that addresses an individual’s unique needs, and continue with support – including new employment and educational programs – after someone leaves jail and returns to the community. A 2013 RAND Corporation study showed that participation in prison education, including both academic and vocational programming, was associated with an over 40 percent reduction in recidivism—saving $4 to $5 for each dollar spent.
By the end of 2017, every single person who enters City jails will be meeting with counselors, starting day one, who will assess their unique risks and needs. These counselors will work with detainees to develop an individualized approach for their time in custody that will include efforts to identify vocational and educational needs and help them connect with the right programs during their stay. Everyone in City custody will be matched with five hours per day of vocational, educational, and therapeutic programming that will help lay a foundation to best support long-term stability after release.
Jails to Jobs
· Peer Navigators: Everyone leaving city jails after serving a sentence will be paired with a Peer Navigator from a new public health-informed program in which peers who have successfully stabilized after incarceration help those who are recently released to achieve this same stability.
· Transitional Employment: Everyone leaving city jails after serving a sentence will be offered paid, short-term transitional employment to help with securing a long-term job. Research has shown that connecting those recently released from prison to short-term transitional jobs can reduce recidivism by 22%.
· Trained workforce providers: All City-funded workforce professionals will be trained on issues and laws related to working with people with criminal records, including the Fair Chance Act, legislation signed by Mayor de Blasio that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s arrest record or criminal conviction.
Educational subsidies: Additionally, the City will continue its partnership with the City University of New York to offer 500 people per year who leave City jails after serving a sentence educational subsidies to support getting certificates and other credentials that promote career advancement, including the opportunity to become a certified peer and join the Peer Navigators for the Jails to Jobs program.
This re-entry initiative will be implemented in partnership with the New York City Diversion and Re-Entry Council, which includes over 100 leaders from various parts of the criminal justice system.
Serious Violence is Decreasing in DOC Facilities
Since the Mayor took office, the jail population has decreased 18% – from an average population of 11,478 in December 2013 to an average of 9,362 this month. The population just at Rikers Island has fallen 23%. This drop was largely driven by intentional efforts to reduce the number of people who go into jail and how long they stay – while still protecting public safety.
The successful diversion of those who do not belong in jail has meant a higher concentration of inmates who are more likely to commit violent acts. Despite this challenge, serious violent incidents are decreasing by double digit percentages in nearly every category. These decreases affirm the shift away from punitive segregation to more effective rehabilitation methods.
From calendar year 2014 to 2016:
· Assaults on staff with serious injuries decreased 38 percent
· Assaults on staff with minor injuries decreased 21 percent
· Serious uses of force decreased 51 percent
· Minor uses of force decreased 14 percent
· Inmate fights with serious injuries decreased 9 percent
The drop in incidents resulting in any type of injury – coupled with an increase in uses of force without injury – indicate that new de-escalation trainings for staff have helped officers learn successful strategies to end fights or intervene in tricky situations without anyone getting hurt.
While the jails are still seeing an increase in stabbings and slashings, those incidents represent less than 1.5% of all jail violence, and contraband confiscations increased 33% from 2015 to 2016. The administration continues to advocate the State to change the law that would permit the Department to use ionizing body scanners that are more effective at finding small blades. Since the department stopped using these scanners in 2013 under State law, slashing and stabbing incidents have risen, and returning them to use as soon as possible is a key part of the strategy to make our jails safer.
In a separate, related announcement, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today released two Requests for Proposals to create innovative programming and support existing services for New Yorkers reentering communities after periods of incarceration. Using criminal forfeiture funds obtained through settlements with international banks that violated U.S. sanctions, the District Attorney’s Office is also funding the creation of a blueprint for a new Manhattan Criminal Court Resource Center to better enable low-level offenders to navigate and utilize programs and services that comprise non-jail sentences, ranging from community service to mental health programs.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said, “Any effort to reduce crime must address the needs of those returning to our communities after being incarcerated. Unless we provide these individuals with access to the resources they need – from employment to supportive housing to mental health services – the cycle of recidivism is bound to continue. Similarly, as we work to reduce unnecessary incarceration, we know we must not only expand sentencing options for low-level offenders that do not include jail, but provide better access to these programs and services for the thousands of defendants that come through our courts each year. I look forward to investing in programs that have been proven to be successful in reducing recidivism, and to learning more about the new and innovative work happening in this field, with an eye toward funding more projects in the future.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “We support re-entry programs and other efforts to rehabilitate formerly incarcerated people.”
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, “We share a common goal of preventing crime in New York City and programs aimed at breaking the cycle of recidivism will help reduce crime and make our communities safer for all.”