There has been a lot of press about controversies at New york City’s Rikers Island, as well as reports of pivotal reform to make life more livable there. In an effort to reduce violence in the jail, a pilot allowance program has been implemented for teenaged inmates who behave. Department of Correction spokeswoman Eve Kessler said in a statement, “As we have brought online more educational programming and services for our adolescent inmates, we’re also putting into place an incentive system to reward good behavior and keep our youthful detainees on the right path.”
The pilot program known as “Inmate Idleness Reduction Programming” started on July 5th. The 16 and 17-year-old inmates at Rikers Island (said by some to be the rowdiest ones) who keep their cells clean, follow the rules and behave will be rewarded with $25 a week. Similar programs have been executed in Massachusetts and Maine, and have proven effective with a reduction of violence.
Not everybody is happy with the new measure, though, feeling that the inmates are being rewarded for things they’re supposed to be doing anyway. According to the NY Daily News, a “veteran jail boss” sassed, “Why not open a Roth IRA for them? That’s progressive, no?”
Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook feels that Rikers Island inmates should be rewarded for turning in weapons and contraband, not good behavior. “But I’m going to give you $25 for sitting in your housing area after you murdered a 5-year-old?” Seabrook asked. “And we are going to use taxpayer money to do that? I don’t think so.”
The program is reportedly being paid for by $44.9 million of taxpayer money set aside by the de Blasio administration.