Eight men at the Eric M. Taylor Center – one of nine jails on New York City’s Rikers Island – completed a five-week literacy course this fall called “Daddy and Me” in which they recorded themselves reading children's books for the sons and daughters they had left behind, says the New York Times. It was the first time such a program had been tried at Rikers, though there have been many similar efforts, most focusing on female inmates across the U.S., since at least 1996.
“People are multidimensional,” said Dora B. Schriro, the city's Correction Department commissioner. “Part of being a man is being a dad, and part of being a good man is being a good dad, in the most fundamental sense of the word.” Financed with about $3,800 from a family literacy grant from the state, the program at the Taylor Center was run by Nick Higgins, supervising librarian at the New York Public Library's correctional services program. Higgins told the inmates, “Our objective is to hopefully change the attitude that some of you might have about reading to children, that reading is Mom's job.”