Rightsizing the New York City Department of Correction While Helping a Struggling Workforce

GJNY NYCDOC Report 786x786


As overstaffing drives New York City’s jail overspending and plans to close Rikers Island loom, the time to begin funding workforce transition programs for Department of Correction (DOC) officers is now. The move from Rikers to the better designed borough-based system will further diminish demand for officers; unless DOC begins acting, the uniformed workforce—which, in 2023, had roughly 400 more officers on staff than people in detention—will only become more disproportionate. The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) interviewed 30 current and former corrections officers about the work’s immense challenges as well as its draw as a rare path to financial stability for those without a college degree. Vera also consulted New York City-based workforce development experts on best practices for supporting corrections officers with career transitions. Funding transition programs now, before Rikers’ closure, is essential to allow staff to prepare for new career phases.

Key Takeaway

With Rikers Island’s planned closure, funding workforce transition programs can help address bloated jail spending and city government workforce shortages while also creating more career pathways for people leaving corrections work.

Publication Highlights

  • Most interview participants joined DOC simply because it felt like one of the only jobs available to them that would enable financial stability.

  • Despite DOC benefits, salary, and pension, most interview participants said they would not recommend the job to friends or family, citing the poor working conditions and work-life balance.

  • With adequate support, officers could prepare for new public and private sector career paths that improve their quality of life while enabling New York City to reduce its jail spending.

Key Facts