Mapping the Landscape of Higher Education in New York State Prisons

Mapping the LandscapeMapping the Landscape of Higher Education in New York State Prisons is the first of its kind in examining both the history and scope of college-in-prison programs across the state. The report describes the existing programs and incorporates the perspectives of DOCCS officials, college administrators, and incarcerated students.

The efficacy of college-in-prison programs in reducing recidivism is well documented; a study by the Rand Corporation showed that those who participated in correctional education programs had a 43% lower rate of recidivating than those who did not. Mapping the Landscape explores other benefits of college-in-prison programs, such as improving incarcerated students’ relationships with their families and increasing safety in facilities for both students and correctional staff.

At its peak, New York State was home to 70 higher education programs in state prisons. The elimination of federal Pell and New York State TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) eligibility for incarcerated students in the mid-1990s, however, reduced the number of programs to just four. In the years since, institutions of higher education, DOCCS, private foundations, and incarcerated individuals have collaborated to create the impressive portfolio of college programs described in this report. In short, there are now 15 college-in-prison programs in New York State, which operate through partnerships with over 30 colleges and universities at 25 DOCCS facilities. Efforts to expand correctional higher education have also been bolstered by the Federal Second Chance Pell pilot program, the District Attorney of New York’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (DANY CJII), and funds allocated by the State Legislature. But despite the progress that has been made, currently just 3% of the approximately 47,000 individuals incarcerated in New York State are able to participate in college programs.

Read the full report here and the executive summary here.

Is College For Me?

Higher education unlocks students’ potential as learners, leaders, and active community members. But determining the right pathway through higher education can be a difficult process for anyone, particularly for people who have been involved with the justice system. While education can be transformative for students with a history of involvement in the justice system, very few resources exist to explain the process of applying to, enrolling in, and financing higher education.

Is College For Me? is a pocket-sized fold out designed in collaboration with the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) that demystifies the process of enrolling in college. The colorful resource explains the various types of degrees, schools, and resources available to students. Is College For Me? also breaks down the steps students can take while in still in prison and after coming home.

Download a PDF of the resource here.

On May 18, 2018, the Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) released a series of License Guides to support justice-involved individuals and advocates navigating the licensing process for 10 occupations in New York State. Developed in partnership with Youth Represent, PRI’s License Guides include a comprehensive and accessible overview of the licensing process for each occupation, as well as a glossary of key legal terms and information on additional resources.

With the License Guides, PRI and Youth Represent combine their knowledge of workforce development and New York law, respectively, to support access to in-demand occupations for people with criminal justice involvement.

The License Guides were made possible with support from the NYC Young Men’s Initiative and the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity.

For a printable and downloadable version of the set of License Guides, click here.

The nation’s 3,069 counties operate 91 per cent of the country’s jails, filtering nearly 11 million people through the criminal justice system each year. The vast majority of incarcerated individuals — nearly 95 per cent — will eventually return home. Finding safe and affordable housing is crucial to their successful reentry, but is all too often a major challenge for justice-involved individuals. With combined annual budgets of nearly $93 billion in criminal justice and public safety, and billions more spent annually on housing and community services, counties are uniquely positioned to impact reentry housing practice and policy.

By encouraging innovative budgeting, collaboration across agencies, and the development of cutting-edge social services, PRI and the National Association of Counties (NACo) are laying the foundations for effective county action on reentry housing.

Read success stories from counties across the country and learn more about our recommendations for county action here.

A Place to Call Home (October 2017)

On October 27, 2016, the Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) held a special event in partnership with The Fortune Society, The Supportive Housing Network of New York, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing. This day-long event, Excluded: A Dialogue on Safe, Supportive, and Affordable Housing for People with Justice System Involvement, gathered together a group of speakers and panelists from a variety of fields. This report makes the case of providing dignified housing that meets the needs of those with criminal justice histories, and providing it as quickly as possible upon reentry. Listen to our podcast to learn more.

Building Communities, Changing Lives: The NYC Justice Corps Community Benefits Projects (June 2017)

Building Communities, Changing Lives: The NYC Justice Corps Community Benefits Projects (June 2017)

The NYC Justice Corps aims to change the dynamic between justice system-involved young adults and the communities in which they live. At the heart of the program are community benefit projects – from renovation and restoration projects to educational and arts initiatives – designed and carried out by Corps members. Community benefit projects promote transformation on several levels. By taking the lead in all aspects of creating and completing their service projects, Corps members learn the hard and soft skills needed for their return to education or entry into training and the workforce. Neighborhoods, too, benefit from transformational physical improvements and the positive engagement of their young people. Community benefit projects have the potential to pave the way for a shift in community members’ perception and experience of young people with criminal histories. Read this report to learn more.

Women InJustice: Gender and the Pathway to Jail in New York City (March 2017)

Women InJustice: Gender and the Pathway to Jail in New York City (March 2017)

While New York City has embarked on a series of reforms to divert people from jails and prisons and provide community supervision and community rehabilitation, reforms have primarily focused on men. Our report, “Women InJustice: Gender and the Pathway to Jail in New York City” concludes that equal justice is not possible using a one-size-fits-all approach. Because women have not benefited from criminal justice reform to the same extent as men, the report urges that reforms must meet the gender-specific needs of the people who enter the system.  The report recommends that criminal justice interventions should be gender-responsive and trauma-informed. The report also urges that critically needed social services should be accessible through the criminal justice system, but not mandated by it. Rather, social service systems must collaborate with criminal justice system entities that have ongoing contact with individuals to deliver needed services. The report makes targeted recommendations for reducing the number of New York City women in jail, including increasing the use of non-monetary bail and expanding diversion options. This work was supported by the New York Women’s Foundation.

Solitary Confinement: Ending the Over-Use of Extreme Isolation in Prison and Jail | A Report on a Colloquium to Further a National Consensus

Solitary Confinement: Ending the Over-Use of Extreme Isolation in Prison and Jail | A Report on a Colloquium to Further a National Consensus (September 30-October 1, 2015)

On September 30, 2015, with support from the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation, John Jay College of Criminal Justice convened a colloquium including 15 corrections agency heads along with attorneys, academics, and experts from the community of those seeking to reform the use of social isolation, often called “solitary confinement,” in U.S. prisons and jails. The gathering provided a first opportunity for many to meet with those they might previously have considered policy adversaries, to determine if consensus might be achievable about ways to reform the use of social isolation by coming to common agreement rather than resorting to litigation. The report ends with 24 specific recommendations that emerged from several clear themes in the deliberations.

Pretrial Practice: Building a National Research Agenda for the Front End of the Criminal Justice System | A Report on the Roundtable on Pretrial Practice

Arnold 2 CoverPretrial Practice: Building a National Research Agenda for the Front End of the Criminal Justice SystemA Report on the Roundtable on Pretrial Practice (October 26-27, 2015)

The companion volume to Pretrial Practice: Rethinking the Front End of the Criminal Justice System documents the progress made by scholars at the second Roundtable on Pretrial Practice, held at John Jay College in October of 2015. At the second Roundtable, participants built on the ideas, discussions, and areas of consensus from the first convening by working to chart a national research agenda for the field of pretrial.

Arnold I CoverPretrial Practice: Rethinking the Front End of the Criminal Justice System | A Report on the Roundtable on Pretrial Practice (March 18-20, 2015)

At a watershed moment of declining violent crime and broad political and public support for reform, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in partnership with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, brought together thought leaders from across the field for two groundbreaking roundtables in 2015 focused on rethinking the front end of the criminal justice system through research, reform, and renewed dialogue. This report documents the first Roundtable’s far-ranging discussions about how to remake pretrial through early intervention, innovative policing strategies, risk-based pretrial decision-making, and evidence-based pretrial supervision, all grounded in an important conversation about the core values that underpin American justice: proportionality, parsimony, citizenship, and social justice.