De Blasio picks criminal justice ‘reformer’ to head up NYC Department of Correction

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FILE — Washington Mayor Tony Williams, left, introduces the District of Columbia’s new director of the Youth Services Administration, Vincent Schiraldi, right, during his weekly press briefing at the Wilson Building in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2004. Schiraldi comes from the Washington-based Justice Policy Institute where he is executive director. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed a new head to the New York City Department of Correction on Wednesday, just one day after the previous commissioner announced her resignation.

Vincent Schiraldi will take the reins from Cynthia Brann, who’s set to leave the department at the end of May, city officials said. The change comes as New York continues efforts to close down the Rikers Island jail facility and move to smaller, borough-based jails.

“Vincent Schiraldi is a reformer through and through,” de Blasio said. From his work at the Columbia Justice Lab to his transformation of the New York City Department of Probation, Vincent has led the charge to fundamentally change how our criminal justice system works. I trust that he will drive us forward in our work to create a jail system that is smaller, safer, and more humane.”

Schiraldi previously worked as commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation and as a senior policy adviser to the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

“New York has been a leader in safely reducing incarceration, showing the rest of the country what it looks like to exit the era of mass incarceration,” Schiraldi said. “The challenge now, one I look forward to taking on, is to have the environment and culture in DOC jails match the excellent work the city has done combating mass incarceration.”

De Blasio’s pick for commissioner was applauded by Stanley Richards, who heads up The Fortune Society, a nonprofit helping the formerly incarcerated.

“Vinny’s appointment demonstrates the de Blasio Administration’s commitment to close Rikers island and end solitary confinement,” Richards said. “Over the decades, The Fortune Society has developed a deep respect and admiration for Vinny’s vision for a justice system that is fair, humane, and just.”

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