Legal Aid Society


LAS: City Failing to Provide Education for Incarcerated Youth

The Legal Aid Society filed a motion to secure the reappointment of an independent monitor in Handberry v. Thompson, litigation brought against the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) and the Department of Education (DOE), that sought to secure a high school education for youth under the age of 21 who have not received a high school diploma and are incarcerated in New York City’s adult jails.

Despite a 2016 court order requiring DOC and DOE to provide a minimum of three hours of education, including special education and related services, every school day to incarcerated youth, scores of young people who want to attend school have reported not receiving adequate education and, in many cases, no education at all.

Students are regularly denied access to school even after requesting it multiple times, while others were not even informed they had the right to receive educational services. Some students were unable to attend class simply because there was no correction officer available to escort them.

“This case concerns a vulnerable group of New Yorkers – incarcerated young adults – eager to use their time in jail as productively as possible by pursuing their education,” said Lauren Stephens-Davidowitz, an attorney with Legal Aid’s Prisoners’ Rights Project.

“The City’s failure to educate these New Yorkers is not only a blatant violation of the 2016 court order, but heartbreaking and immoral,” she continued. “We look forward to fighting in court to ensure that no young adult is deprived of a high school education due to incarceration on Rikers Island.”