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Department of Correction appoints BOC Vice-Chair Stanley Richards as First Deputy Commissioner of Programs and Operations

Photo Credit: The Fortune Society

East Elmhurst, NY – June 30, 2021 – Stanley Richards, long-time executive vice-president of the Fortune Society and Vice-Chair of the New York City Board of Correction, has been appointed as First Deputy Commissioner of Programs and Operations at the New York City Department of Correction.

He will supervise Programs for incarcerated persons, day-to-day operations, the Borough Based Jails initiative and the Correction Assistance Response for Employees (C.A.R.E.) unit as part of his portfolio when he joins the department on July 1.

An expert in reentry with decades of criminal justice experience, Richards was formerly incarcerated on Rikers Island in the 1980s for two and a half years, and his appointment to one of the top posts in the department marks a true watershed moment in not only the history of the agency but in the evolution of correctional practices.

The department is not aware of any other person in its long history who was previously in DOC custody and went on to serve in a senior leadership position.

Richards will bring a unique perspective to the department’s senior leadership that will be invaluable as the agency continues the process of major reform and creates more humane facilities where people are better off when they leave than when they arrived.

"Stanley Richards has been at the forefront of criminal justice reform for decades,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "His lived experience makes him uniquely qualified to transform our jails and create a system that focuses on rehabilitation. I’m confident that he will move us forward in our work to create a jail system that is smaller, safer, and more humane."

“This appointment is one that I am greatly pleased to announce and is a historic game-changer for this agency. Stanley brings an invaluable perspective as someone who has been a criminal justice advocate with decades of experience assisting formerly incarcerated people as they reenter society and as someone with the actual lived experience of being incarcerated in the jails the agency runs,” said DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi. “The arc of Stanley’s life and career is one of redemption, triumph over adversity, healing and achievement. His advocacy has rebuilt lives, and his inspirational life-story is a shining example for all of what true rehabilitation of formerly incarcerated people looks like. Stanley also has a keen sense of understanding of the needs and concerns of Correction Officers. We look forward to him continuing to help in his new role.”

“I am tremendously excited to be joining the Department of Correction as part of Commissioner Schiraldi’s team. This is a historic moment, where a formerly incarcerated man of color, who was incarcerated for over 2 ½ years in agency jails, is able to come back and do the work that I’ve spent the last 27 years doing: helping people rebuild their lives,” said DOC First Deputy Commissioner of Programs and Operations Stanley Richards. “This will let me do that work further upstream for men and women who are incarcerated. I will also be an advocate for Correction Officers and staff who help rehabilitate incarcerated persons every day. This is about bringing safety to the jails, working with our Correction Officers to bring programming into the facilities, providing opportunities for people to rebuild their lives, and connecting people to service providers like Fortune. I am thrilled about what this opportunity presents, and I thank Mayor De Blasio, First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan, and Commissioner Schiraldi for having the confidence in my ability to add tremendous value, particularly in this national moment of reckoning on racial justice.”

“For more than 30 years, Stanley Richards has been an indomitable force at The Fortune Society leading us with vision, compassion and strength,” said JoAnne Page, President and CEO of The Fortune Society. “His tireless work developing effective programs, smart policies and progressive legislation has saved the lives of countless thousands of justice-involved people. Through word and example, he has shown everyone who comes through our doors that a kid from the Bronx can overcome a troubled past and achieve great things.”

Richards began working as a counselor at the Fortune Society in 1991, helping other people reenter society and furthering the mission of the organization, which supports the successful re-entry of formerly incarcerated individuals.

Between 1997 and 2001, Richards was the Deputy Director of Client Intervention at the Hunter College Center on AIDS, Drugs, and Community Health.

After returning to the Fortune Society, Richards earned a series of promotions that led to him becoming the second most senior person at the organization.

In 2014, Richards was recognized by President Obama’s administration as a Champion of Change for his commitment to helping individuals who are impacted by the justice system. 

Richard’s served the city as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Smaller, Safer, and Fairer: A Roadmap to Closing Rikers Island Justice Implementation Task Force subcommittee on design.

Richards also made history when he became the first formerly incarcerated person to be appointed by the City Council Speaker to the NYC Board of Correction, which sets minimum standards for care and provides oversight to DOC.

He was also appointed to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform chaired by former NYS Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, which created and released a blueprint ‘A More Just New York City.’

He is also part of the New York City Disconnected Youth Task Force, which aims to examine the barriers out-of-school and out-of-work young people have to becoming students or getting jobs.

Additionally, Richards is a member of the New York City Older Adult Reentry Task Force, which issues recommendations to address issues related to the post-incarceration reentry for older adults.

He took part in The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies’ (FPWA) Ending the Poverty to Prison Pipeline Task Force and Governor Cuomo's Ending the Epidemic Task Force which produced New York State's Blueprint to End the AIDS Epidemic

Richards is a graduate of Medaille College. Richards was also a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow in their Developing Leadership Program to Reduce Substance Abuse. Additionally, Richards completed coursework at Columbia University's Institute for Non-Profit Management, School of Business Management, Executive Management Program.



The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment while providing individuals in our care with a path to successfully re-enter their communities. The Department provides for the care and custody of people ordered held by the courts and awaiting trial or who are convicted and sentenced to one year or less of jail time. DOC manages 8 facilities housing people in custody, 7 of which are located on Rikers Island. The Department also operates two hospital wards (Bellevue and Elmhurst hospitals) and court facilities in each borough. Our dedicated workforce of both uniformed and non-uniformed staff members represents the city’s Boldest.