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Correctional Services Program
The goal of The New York Public Library's Correctional Services Program is to build a continuum of regular, sustainable, and quality library services to patrons and their families in the justice involved communities, both onsite and offsite.
In response to the growing number of children with incarcerated parents, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, has developed its newest, bilingual (English/Spanish) initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration.
We at Correctional Services are excited to collaborate with Sesame Street. We are using the wonderful Sesame Street materials in our family literacy programs, to help justice involved parents talk to their children about their situation, with honesty and hope.
How can you use the Sesame Street materials in your family?
Try these Tips for Parents and Caregivers!
We deliver a range of literacy programs at juvenile jails and state and federal prisons. In partnership with the New York City Department of Corrections and supported in part by a gift from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Inc., Correctional Services runs Daddy & Me a book recording project with detained parents. Incarcerated parents participate in early literacy workshops followed by a recording session where they can make a CD of themselves reading a favorite book to their kids. In collaboration with the New York Society for Ethical Culture (NYSEC), we have begun to work to connect incarcerated parents and their children through video, or "televisiting". We have furnished NYSEC's office with a children's library and provide incarcerated parents with identical books, using reading as a bonding activity during televisiting. The families practice their literacy skills together and form crucial connections. We are excited to add expanded literacy workshops to televisiting as the capacity for this program expands at city jails.
Sesame Street in Action:
Dr. Frank Corigliano, a resident psychologist at NYSEC, shared this story about the first post-Daddy & Me televisiting session. "One of the dads in particular was especially enthusiastic about reading for his kids. He picked wonderful books and made recordings for each of his boys. The next time I spoke with Mom to schedule the televisit, she told me that her family used the Sesame Street materials that she was given during the Daddy & Me family day. Now that the boys understood about dad’s incarceration, they were eligible to televisit. I am thrilled to say that the boys had their visit!" Dad read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss to his two young boys. The Sesame Street materials we use at Daddy & Me, and more can be found here.
Books, magazines, comic books and more!
NYPL's Correctional Services consists of three staff members and several outstanding volunteers. From December 2012 until September 2013, we have interacted over 10,000 times with patrons through our regular circulating book services at our five satellite libraries inside city jails, including four Rikers Island facilities and Manhattan Detention Complex (MDC), our newest location added in May 2013. Many incarcerated men and women are avid readers and we witness our patrons' great appreciation for the library service during every visit.
Learn More About Us
To learn more about what we do, please check out our blog, Freedom of Thought, where you can hear directly from our amazing staff and volunteers. We occasionally publish writing from prison and pieces from the programs we run with incarcerated adults and youth at: Writing from Prison. Also, check out The Voice From Inside blog by John Wannamaker, currently detained in MDC Brooklyn.
Help Us Out!
The correctional services staff greatly appreciates book donations and help from volunteers. To learn more, click here.
With support from the library, Correctional Services publishes Connections, an annual guide and directory of resources in New York City available to help former inmates when they are leaving correctional facilities. Connections also serves as a guide on preparing for the world of work. We are so proud that is beyond a doubt the most exhaustive re-entry guidebook in New York City.
The booklet is free to those incarcerated in New York State prisons and local jails, and to agencies that help to provide service to former inmates.
A few of the organizations dedicated to helping the formerly incarcerated can be found here.
The library prints 8,000 copies, which are sent to federal and state correctional facilities, and to local city government agencies upon request, including community based organizations serving the prison population. Because of our limited print run, we ask that community based organizations try to rely on the pdf version of Connections (see below) to use with their clients. Relevant pages can be easily printed. This will allow us to have enough print copies to fill requests from soon-to-be-released inmates who have no access to the Internet at their facilities. Thank you for your understanding.
Monthly statistics on our services can be found here.
For information about these services, contact Correctional Services at 212-340-0812