Rikers Island Paralegal Program

The paralegals who staff the Rikers Island Paralegal Program address the needs of more than 5,000 inmates each year; act as the liaison between incarcerated persons and their attorneys, the Department of Correction, the Division of Parole, the State and federal courts (both criminal and civil), and other criminal justice agencies throughout the United States; and advocate with the Department of Corrections staff on institutional matters, including health care needs and jail time credit.

Program services are available to every person incarcerated in the New York City jails, regardless of whether the Society represents the person or not. Of the 5,000 inmates assisted each year, more than 1,500 are clients of other providers and individual criminal defense attorneys. The program, under the leadership of Marie L. Washington, provides cost-effective service for both defense teams (which have urgent client service needs that can be handled immediately by staff located directly on Rikers Island) and the Department of Correction (which benefits by the immediate intervention of the Rikers Paralegal staff which can diffuse inmate concerns at an early stage).