aka Rikers Island
The High Impact Incarceration Program (HIIP), sometimes referred to informally as the Rikers Island inmate "boot-camp," is a voluntary 61-day, 200-bed residential program for technical parole violators and some City-sentenced adult inmates convicted of non-violent crimes. It provides these inmates with an opportunity to change their lifestyle.
DOC has been operating the program since October, 1990. It was reformatted in 1995 to include substance abuse services and an after-care component that provides counseling support and job placement. The after-care is contracted with the South Forty Corporation.
HIIP offers a highly disciplined regimen based on a military model, fostering community-minded attitudes and behaviors. Besides military drill and ceremony, it includes significant vocational/educational training, substance abuse counseling and community service components. It emphasizes behavior modification and community responsibility through the teaching of the Five Basic Needs, Five STEPS of Decision Making, Four Elements of Social Control (Hirschi), Glasserís Control Theory and the Six Criminal Tendencies.
HIIP operates out of a compound at the Correctional Institution for Men on Rikers Island and is believed to be the nation's first urban boot camp. Instruction is provided by Correction Officers and counselors who volunteered for the assignment and received special training in military drill-instructor techniques as well as in various counseling methodologies. Many HIIP officers went through their own boot camp experience at the Marines' Quantico, Va., base as training for HIIP. At Quantico, for three weeks, they were on the receiving end of the same kind of strict discipline, intense physical activity, precision drills and no-nonsense gut-checking counseling they enforce as HIIP drill instructors.
Inmate participation in HIIP is voluntary. To qualify, inmates--or team-mates as they are called-- must, among other requirements, be at least 19 years old, pass a physical exam, and not have a record for violent crimes or sex offenses. Technical parole violators who successfully complete the program satisfy their parole warrant and are released from custody, but continue under supervision of the State Division of Parole.
Team-mates are required to have their hair cut in a short-cropped military fashion; wear special green uniforms and cannot wear jewelry other than a religious medal or wedding band. There are restrictions on when and to whom they may speak, and on the correct forms of addressing officers, team-mates and others.
Another component of the program involves work details on Rikers Island such as landscaping, painting and other housekeeping responsibilities.
HIIP participants begin their day with wake up at 4:45 AM followed by military marching drills, classes and counseling sessions daily. After a full day of exercises, school, work details, counseling--and no television--they must be in bed by 10 PM when lights go out.
During Fiscal Year 1999, some 643 inmates entered HIIP, with 81% completing the program and receiving graduation certificates.
Community Service from High Impact include details at the Partnership for the Homeless, various community roadways which include graffiti removal and cleanup, and details for the United States Coast Guard. HIIP also facilitates weekly aftercare support groups in the community. HIIP has several integral rehabilitative components, including substance abuse seminars, life skills sessions and network meetings.
Island Academy is part of the academic and vocational education segments, conducting Pre-GED, GED and Construction workshop. John Jay College of Criminal Justice and LaGuardia Community College, both of the City University of New York system have provided several educational components such as computer training, pesticide removal, and asbestos removal, as well as providing college preparatory classes.
-- Thomas McCarthy, NYCHS webmaster