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SWBOCES Summer ReadingJune 28, 2019 - As the school year draws to a close, many high school students across Westchester will receive their summer reading assignments to carry them through to September.  Like those students, young people in the custody of the Westchester County Department of Correction will similarly enjoy the experience of a good book, through a recently-received grant which expands the Department’s onsite library.

By way of a long-time partnership with Southern Westchester BOCES, the Department of Correction provides educational services to persons in custody, including young people who attend high school within the jail at the Sprain Brook Academy.  Recently, the American Association of School Libraries awarded SWBOCES one of only six grants nationally, and the only grant awarded to a school operating within a correctional institution.  The $5,000 grant will be used to enhance the Academy’s collection of English and Spanish language soft-cover books, periodicals and graphic novels.  And just like in a community library, each book will have a sign-out card in its rear cover to note who borrowed it. 

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “Books have had a profound influence on my life, allowing me the chance to travel to anywhere in the world. Reading is essential for everyone, and if this grant will help us to provide that opportunity for our inmates, we will all benefit.”

Commissioner of Correction Joseph K. Spano said: “For any offender, the ability to get lost in a great book while in custody cannot be overstated. It can help take a person’s mind to a different place outside of our walls, or to perhaps learn a new skill.  We are very appreciative of the opportunity to expand our library collection, particularly books that our young people can access ‘24/7’ in their housing areas.”  

In addition to the SWBOCES partnership, the Department of Correction maintains over 30 other innovative reentry, rehabilitation and educational programs.  These programs include a recently-received Obama Foundation mentoring grant to assist young men from Yonkers, as well as a partnership with Manhattan College that provides for onsite campus-level coursework.  First Deputy Commissioner Louis A. Molina stated “We recognize that when the young people in our care are in the community, they rely on digital content as a source of information.  The ability to provide them with traditional books in addition to our existing digital library and educational tablets will support their educational journey, enhancing their reentry to their respective communities.”

Claudia Murphy, Senior Director of Adult and Community Services at SWBOCES stated “The administration of Southern Westchester BOCES and the Center for Adult & Community Services, which operates the Sprain Brook Academy in collaboration with our partners at the Department of Correction, are thankful to the AASL for supporting this important work. This grant will help ensure we meet our educational mission to serve all of our students.”