Between Memorial Day and July 4th, we’ll be doing a series of posts on Authentic Patriotism, featuring vignettes from Stephen P. Kiernan’s book Authentic Patriotism as well as local stories of authentic patriotism (you can submit them HERE). Stephen will be our featured speaker at the June 21 Dinner at the Square (find details HERE).

The future of an adolescent who enter Rikers Island prison are grim. Even for those who are quickly released after having been found innocent have usually adopted the tough prison culture that changes the path of their life. According to Kiernan, upon release the percentage of young inmates enrolled in school is zero. A released inmate often doesn’t have a job or a place to live and has now been educated to be a criminal. The rate of their return to prison is 70%.

Barbara Strove-Grodd and Norma Green stepped in to solve the problem with “Friends of Island” that intervenes during a boy’s incarceration. They direct the boy to services that already exist – he can get a GED, health care, food stamps and maybe a job after release.

This program dropped the recidivism rate to 5.2 percent. Started at 70%, now it’s 5.2

Beyond intervening positively in the lives of these boys and dropping the area crime rate, this program saves taxpayers lots of money. Housing an inmate at Rikers costs more than $80,000 a year. If Friends of Island keeps these boys out of jail for even a year, the financial savings is huge.

Why isn’t this program in every corner of America?