Half of all inmates serving city sentences of a year or less in New York City’s Rikers Island jail are back in custody within a year, says the New York Times. Over the past three years, the Correction Department has offered adults – who make up the bulk of the 13,500 daily inmate population at Rikers – an alternative to being dropped off at a plaza or being picked up by friends or family.
Adults instead can get a ride directly to job sites or aftercare programs sponsored by nonprofits. An official says that, “if we keep people engaged 90 days after jail, we have about a 70 percent rate of keeping them out.” Some nonprofits that serve the small population of young inmates at Rikers are also offering juveniles this option. Experts say aftercare programs are crucial to preventing recidivism. While many adults embrace the opportunity, the response from young inmates has been lukewarm. Many, even those returning repeatedly to jail, prefer to fend for themselves. The Adolescent Re-entry Initiative program is run by the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice. And two nonprofits, the Fortune Society and Friends of Island Academy, each bought vans to transport juveniles home or to their own aftercare programs.