De-Marginalize: Challenging the cycle of recidivism

As soon as you walk out of jail or prison…
Where do you go? What do you do?
In the City of Poughkeepsie, the existing support network is complex and scattered.
This causes individuals to resort to their old ways and get re-arrested, trapped in a vicious cycle.
Poughkeepsie is also a hub for the formerly incarcerated population with it being the only parole office for three counties in the Hudson Valley region.
This project aims to reduce recidivism by creating a special support network; a hybridized community for the formerly incarcerated and the public.
These new facilities will:
encourage community Interaction,
reduce stigma,
and build trust.

De-Marginalize: Challenging the Cycle of Recidivism
Columbia GSAPP, M.S Architecture & Urban Design
Instructors: Lee Altman, Michael Murphy, Chris Kroner, James Carse, Caitlin Taylor, Justin Moore, David Smiley
Fall 2017
Project Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
In Collaboration with Jesse Hirakawa, Xiao Fei Huang, and Shih Hao Liao

The United States also has more individuals incarcerated than any other country in the world. With 2.3 million people currently incarcerated, this is actually double of what it was two decades ago. The City of Poughkeepsie suffers from a disproportionately high rate compared to the rest of New York among its formerly incarcerated population. Once released, 51% of these inmates end up reoffending and becoming a victim in the cycle of recidivism. The Dutchess County Jail in Poughkeepsie is the only overcrowded jail in the Hudson Valley region. Even with the extensive support network from non-profits, religious groups and government agencies, the recidivism rate in Poughkeepsie is still high. Why?

These resources are disconnected and inaccessible for people with only $40 in their pocket when they leave jail or prison.  Shelters offer a place to sleep but do not offer the stability of a home. The issue of accessibility makes the conditions of going back and forth between a day and night shelter inconvenient. Employment is almost impossible with the social stigma they now bear and the schedule they may have to adhere to. 80% of these individuals also need regular medication or counselling for their mental illnesses, substance abuse, or alcohol addiction (which have become over-criminalized in the past two decades).  Without continuous treatment, people re-lapse into behaviors that are considered criminal and get re-arrested. Since Poughkeepsie includes one of four parole offices in the Hudson Valley Region, parolees end up getting re-arrested because of the difficult accessible hours and distance they might have to travel.

Inside most American cities, there are abandoned railway corridors due to the decommissioning of the CSX rail line usage in certain areas. We see these abandoned areas as an opportunity and believe urban design can be the solution to reducing recidivism. Our project aims to reduce the cycle of recidivism by creating a special support network; a hybridized community for the formerly-incarcerated and the public. For the formerly incarcerated, the hybridized community will provide transitional housing, rehabilitation and correctional services while providing local job training and opportunities. Food warehouses, auto garages and manufacturing companies that currently have the CSX corridor as their backyard will be able to collaborate with this hybridized community. They will have the opportunity to provide individuals with potential transitional jobs. A new typology of building that provides spaces for job training, transitional housing, correctional services and public amenities must be flexible and will become the new fabric along the corridor. The flexibility of this infrastructure will be taken advantage of with Social Impact Bonds and investors. Investors like Exodus, MHA, and NY government will first invest in transitional housing and companies that will higher formerly incarcerated individuals.

A parole office along side day-to-day public amenities will make the visit easier for individuals that have to be there weekly or monthly. At the east end of the corridor there will be a community center (rock-climbing, counselling, cafe and day-care center) and with rehabilitation/mental health facilities integrated into the existing landscape. Adjacency to the creek and landscape will encourage a stewardship and enhancing the mental healing process with landscape. By connecting these services to existing neighborhoods, the new facilities will encourage community interaction, reduce stigma, and build trust. On a larger scale, by utilizing spaces like the CSX corridor (which are common across America), Poughkeepsie can become the pilot to a new typology of urban infill to help reduce recidivism nationally.

Skills: Urban Design