As prepared for delivery

Testimony of
Assistant Commissioner Francis Torres, New York City Department of Correction



before the


New York City Council committees on

Education, Fire and Criminal Justice Services, and Juvenile Justice




Educational Services for Detained and Placed Youth


November 30, 2016




Good morning Speaker Mark-Viverito, Chairs Dromm, Crowley, and Cabrera, and members of the City Council committees on Education, Fire and Criminal Justice Services, and Juvenile Justice. I am Francis Torres, Assistant Commissioner of Education and Youth Advocacy Services at the Department of Correction (DOC).


DOC is responsible for the care, custody, and control of all people aged sixteen and older who are issued bail or remanded to custody while awaiting trial in New York City, as well as a small population of individuals who are sentenced to a year or less. In New York, sixteen and seventeen year olds are considered adults in the criminal justice system, so any sixteen and seventeen year old who is arrested in New York City, regardless of the charge, is processed through the adult system and may come to DOC custody.


As the Council is aware, a major focus of the Department in the last few years has been to manage young people according to their unique needs. This includes providing access to age- appropriate education services to adolescents (sixteen and seventeen year olds) and young adults (eighteen through twenty-one year olds). These education services are provided by the New York City Department of Education.


East River Academy


The Department of Education operates the East River Academy (ERA) in eight DOC facilities. Under District 79, ERA provides high school instruction and educational services for students ages sixteen through twenty-one. All adolescents must go to school. School is optional for young adults, but DOC strongly encourages that young adults attend school if they have not graduated from high school already.

Other Educational Services


In addition to the services provided by DOE, DOC partners with several organizations to provide educational services to youth, including:


  • Inside-Out Program: Designed after Temple University’s Inside Out Prison Model,” this program is available for individuals who are eighteen years or older and have a high school diploma or equivalency. Undergraduate students from the partner college/university and an equal number of selected inside students take the class at Rikers Island. Upon completion, inside students who meet the class requirements are admitted to the college upon release.
  • College and Community Fellowship (CCF): A College Transition Counselor from CCF meets

monthly with participants. The CCF counselor provides general information on the college application process and provides a workshop on financial literacy. Once released, CCF guides participants through the college application process and provides support throughout their college life. Once accepted to college, students are given an academic stipend upon completion of 12 credits and 2.5 GPA.

  • College Way: Volunteer educators provide a college readiness class on key components of successful college life, college admissions tests, and college mathematics. Professors and Adjunct Lecturers from various institutions provide lectures on mathematics, business, and other subjects.
  • Career and Technical Education Skills (CTE): For many years the DOC has supported the DOE’s Barbering, Culinary Arts, and OSHA training programs. Since 1986, the Department has sponsored horticulture therapy to the sentenced population; this year the program has been expanded to include adolescents and young adults. Moreover, we have a workforce development initiative that offers a comprehensive portfolio of CTE programming and community-based support.
  • Petey Greene Mentoring Program: Petey Greene supplements educational programming in correctional institutions by providing individualized tutoring. It works to promote academic achievement in jail classrooms to support the future success of individuals in jail and to build stronger communities. Trained volunteer tutors are partnered with specific staff and then work one-on-one or in small groups with students in different areas.
  • Skills Development: Through various partnerships and volunteers, we facilitate creative arts (CUNY Creative Arts Team and NYU’s Lyrics on Lockdown), writing and theater workshops (Stella Adler) and a film editing class (Tribeca Film Institute) to name a few.




I would like to comment on Introduction 1148, which would require DOC to report on the education system for incarcerated adolescents and young adults. DOC echoes DOE’s support of transparency around the adolescents in our custody and will work with the Council to ensure that the report meets this goal.




Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am happy to answer any questions that you have.