Jessie Ball duPont Fund Supports Prison Family Visitation Reforms

The trustees of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund awarded $75,000 to The Osborne Association, Bronx, New York, to help the organization improve the quality of family-inmate visits at correctional facilities on Rikers Island and in other New York City jails.

The Osborne Association understands the power of families to spark positive change. Since the 1930s, it has worked to sustain family connections for incarcerated individuals.

Rikers Island holds a daily population of more than 9,000 inmates and hosts more than 300,000 visits a year.

Recently, however, inmates on Rikers Island have confronted new challenges with family visitation, as technology enables more “virtual” visitation instead of in-person visits and heightened security demands prompt procedures that are disruptive and intimidating, particularly to families with children.

An investigation led by retired New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman documented the inhumane treatment of visitors and called for dramatic changes.

With the New York City Department of Corrections under pressure to reform, and support for reforms from New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Osborne has a unique opportunity to improve visitation conditions on Rikers.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund grant will help support Osborne staff as they work with the Department of Corrections to train staff in more respectful, efficient and humane approaches to visitation.

Ultimately, Osborne seeks to expand this training to staff serving other New York City correctional facilities.