New York City Council passes bill to help ex-cons

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A sign of Rikers Island, where IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn will be held, is pictured in Queens, New York on May 16, 2011. A New York judge denied IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn bail on Monday, despite an offer from his defense team to put up $1 million in cash and surrender all his travel documents. The judge ordered the IMF chief detained, two days after he was pulled off a plane and accused of trying to rape a Manhattan hotel chambermaid. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

The new office will help ex-cons get back on their feet. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — The City Council passed a bill Tuesday to create an office dedicated to reentry services for ex-cons who have just been released from the correctional system.

The office, which is being billed as a Division of Transitional Services, will connect formerly incarcerated individuals with social and healthcare services to cut down on recidivism rates.

“Aside from those with serious mental illnesses, very few people leaving Rikers Island receive discharge plans, and this office will help create a coordinated system of re-entry services,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We need to end cycles of recidivism and this division will go a long way towards ensuring New Yorkers leaving correctional facilities have a better chance to be productive members of our City.”

If Mayor de Blasio signs the bill into law, the new office will coordinate with city agencies to make sure people are able to get the help they need. The office can help break the cycle of incarceration, said Councilman Corey Johnson, who sponsored the bill.

“This legislation is going to make our City a safer and more compassionate place,” Johnson said. “When our City makes a positive impact on the lives of these individuals, it has the power to help lift up entire communities and benefit all New Yorkers.”