Home News NYC poised to restore Rikers, jails counseling funding slashed in 2023

NYC poised to restore Rikers, jails counseling funding slashed in 2023

New York City is poised to resume funding outside contractors that help people released from Rikers Island and other jails — but the nonprofits that long ran the programs will have to reapply for the money.

Mayor Adams’ administration says it has aside $14 million to fund similar types of programs provided by the outside nonprofits before the programs’ money was cut in May 2023. But the funding is not a direct restoration of the services.

“The $14 million is new funding,” said Correction Department spokeswoman Annais Morales.

A Correction Department audit showed the agency needed to provide more transition planning for people being released from jail, substance abuse prevention, general education and transportation for people exiting custody. The department projects these services will help thousands of detainees, Morales said.

“The administration agreed and provided this new funding. The department is working on RFPs [requests for proposals] for the programming listed,” Morales added.

Adams’ administration in May 2023 cut $17 million in funds to five nonprofits that had provided transitional counseling and other services in the jails for many years, arguing the Correction Department could provide the same quality of service with its own staff.

The cuts forced those nonprofits, including the Fortune Society and the Osborne Association, to withdraw their staff from the programs. Critics predicted a disaster, with Ronald Day of the Fortune Society saying, “We were completely blindsided.”

Services appeared to worsen after the cuts. The Mayor’s Management Report issued in January showed the number of group and individual counseling sessions in the jails dropped from July through October.

The number of individual counseling sessions declined in that period by 30.5%, from 11,338 to 7,878. The number of group sessions dropped from 14,323 to 10,221, a 28.6% decline, the report said.

Sandy Nurse, chair of the City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee, said the jail counseling programs help reduce the jail population. She criticized the plan to essentially perform a new round of bidding.

“Reversing this short-sighted cut is important, but going through a lengthy RFP process as if the administration doesn’t already know who the best providers for this work are is absurd,” said Nurse (D-Brooklyn).

Council Member Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan) said the decline cited in the management report confirms her concerns over last year’s cuts.

“The $17 million in cuts to nonprofit service providers in city jails were unnecessary and disruptive,” Rivera said.

“The administration’s restoration of $14 million is an acknowledgement that these programs are effective, and they should work with providers to ensure the suite of services and approaches that were being implemented before the cut are fully reinstated.”

With a hearing of the City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee slated for Friday, Fortune Society president Stanley Richards said he hopes the city will quickly re-start the programs.

“My hope is that they will seek the most expeditious way to engage in contract with providers to get those services happening,” he said. “We have a history of providing those services and we stand ready to compete if necessary to provide those services.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here