Senior Research Scientist Vincent Schiraldi Appointed Head of NYC Correction
The youth justice reformer will bring his decades-long experience to bear during the final days of Mayor de Blasio’s administration.
Vincent Schiraldi, senior research scientist at the School of Social Work and founding co-director of the Columbia Justice Lab, has been appointed to serve as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, building on his long and distinguished career in public service and criminal justice reform. Schiraldi will take an eight-month leave from his duties at Columbia University to serve for the remainder of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s term, due to end December 31, 2021.
“Vincent Schiraldi is a reformer through and through,” said Mayor de Blasio upon announcing the appointment. “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.”
Dean Melissa Begg said: “I am delighted to see someone of Vinny’s caliber and compassion take on this role for New York City. We all look forward to seeing what he will accomplish as he takes on the responsibility to run, reform, and downsize the city’s jail system, as well as press ahead with efforts to close the Rikers Island jails. This appointment gives him the opportunity to advance social justice and implement some of the progressive policy innovations developed at the Columbia Justice Lab.”
“Vinny is a strategic problem solver who will bring a profound sense of decency to making New York jails smaller, safer, and more humane,” said Bryce Professor of Sociology and Social Justice Bruce Western. “With justice as the leading topic of public conversation and New Yorkers calling on public officials to reimagine the justice system as a whole, his appointment to the Department of Correction is exactly what the city needs.”
Western, who is renowned for his work on the causes and consequences of the historic growth in U.S. prison populations, worked with Schiraldi to set up the Columbia Justice Lab upon the latter’s arrival at Columbia in 2017, and will continue the Lab’s work in Schiraldi’s absence.
Schiraldi has served in the DeBlasio administration once before, when he was the senior advisor to the Office of Criminal Justice with the aim of reducing incarceration and increasing fairness in New York City’s criminal justice system. At that time he was tasked with finding ways to reduce the number of unnecessary school arrests and suspensions, improve outcomes for young adults in the criminal justice system, improve conditions at Rikers Island, and raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18.
Schiraldi came to this role after having held two senior administration posts: Commissioner of the Department of Probation for the City of New York; and Director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services for the District of Columbia. In both of these positions, he dramatically reduced incarceration of the individuals in his departments’ care as well as their rates of incarceration.
Schiraldi received his MSW from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts from Binghamton University. He joined Columbia University’s School of Social Work in 2017, after serving as a senior research fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
The Justice Lab that he co-established has the mission of reconceiving justice policy through actionable research, community-centered policy development, and the sustained engagement of diverse constituencies. Its six projects focus on issues of incarceration, parole and probation, and post-carceral reentry, as well as developmentally appropriate justice responses for young adults.