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Press Releases

NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services to Provide Free Smartphones to Vulnerable New Yorkers Leaving Rikers at First-Of-Its-Kind Reentry Service Center

Jul 13, 2023

CHS staff welcome New Yorkers released from Rikers to stop by the new CHS Reentry Service center

New York, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services (CHS), in partnership with Premier Wireless Business Technology Solutions, will provide free smartphones and wireless plans to clinically vulnerable New Yorkers immediately upon their release from jail, the agency announced today. The smartphones and service plans will help CHS’ former patients who have significant medical and mental health needs to remain engaged in health care and to stay connected to loved ones as they return to the community.  

CHS, the direct provider of health care in New York City jails, announced the launch of its smartphone access program at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first-ever reentry service center on Rikers Island. CHS’ center will serve as a resource hub for the hundreds of people who are released from Rikers each year, as well as members of the public who are visiting incarcerated loved ones and individuals who work with people in the City’s custody. The center will be staffed by CHS reentry liaisons, who can help connect formerly incarcerated individuals to community-based health and social services and can provide naloxone training and kits and fentanyl test strips to all visitors. The center will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight.  

Pre-programmed applications on free smartphones include NYC ACCESS HRA and MyCity

CHS will distribute the smartphones from the center and will cover the cost of the discounted service plans. The phones, donated by T-Mobile, will be equipped with rugged cases donated by Premier Wireless. The devices will feature customized software—developed by Premier as part of its Connecting People to Resources, or “CPR3,” program—with pre-programmed applications and phone numbers that can help users navigate housing, employment, and health care in the community. CHS will identify phone recipients based on their clinical needs. Eligible recipients will include persons with serious mental illness, individuals who received complex medical care while in jail, and other special patient populations.

“This partnership between NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services and Premier Wireless builds on our robust reentry and transitional services,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This program and the newly opened reentry center underscore this administration’s commitment to helping vulnerable New Yorkers rebuild their lives after incarceration, and will help build a safer city for all.”

“Cell phones have become an indispensable way for getting and staying connected to family, friends, and the resources that can be critical to a successful transition back home,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services Senior Vice President Patsy Yang, DrPH. “We are incredibly grateful to Premier for helping us provide a lifeline for some of our most vulnerable patients as they return their communities.”

“We are excited to partner with CHS to provide some of New York’s most vulnerable with access to the services they need, including healthcare and other resources such as food, shelter, and crisis hotlines,” said Premier Wireless President and CEO Lea Bogle. “Our CPR3 program makes it easy for people of all ages and all levels of digital literacy to navigate an online world, enabling self-sufficiency, equity, and access.”

“A key component of public safety is preventing recidivism by ensuring that when people leave our care, they will continue to find the support and services they need to reenter their communities,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Louis A. Molina. “We know that many incarcerated people are better served with treatment for their mental health conditions elsewhere, and this Correctional Health Services center here on Rikers Island will be an important step in the process of rehabilitation for so many of them.”

“These new initiatives will help ensure New Yorkers transitioning out of incarceration have immediate access to the services they need to thrive after their release,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr.  “These programs will protect New Yorkers by reducing recidivism and give the formerly incarcerated a much better chance to succeed as they reunite with their families and re-enter their communities. We cannot allow these individuals to languish on their own without access to the services that will keep them from being returned to Rikers Island.”

“I am proud to lend my support to CHS’s newest initiatives aimed at facilitating reentry for clinically vulnerable New Yorkers,” said New York City Council Member Nantasha Williams. “I commend their ongoing commitment and look forward to witnessing more of their impactful work and efforts in creating opportunities for successful reintegration into society.”

“It is nearly impossible to navigate our city without a smart phone,” said New York City Council Member Rita Joseph, “which is why I could not be happier to learn that Premier Wireless has partnered with Correctional Health Services to provide free smartphones and plans to vulnerable New Yorkers upon their release from jail. This public-private partnership is a great step in the direction toward a real path to re-entry for hundreds of returning citizens.”

“Giving private cell phones to people leaving jail with medical or mental health needs is a good step in the right direction, and I commend Correctional Health Services for filling this critical gap for some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said New York City Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “Reducing barriers to stay connected to family, health care providers, and community based social service providers such as the Fortune Society and Osborne Association is an important element of successful reentry. This new program is one part of the multi-pronged approach needed to reduce recidivism.” 

“I applaud NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services for their staunch commitment to ensuring we reduce recidivism and give New Yorkers who paid their debt to society every chance to succeed and become productive members of society,” said New York City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse. “I thank Premier Wireless for their partnership and helping to make sure these individuals are not left behind as they will remain engaged with smartphones to connect them to the services they require.”

“This effort from NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services in partnership with Premier Wireless will allow more New Yorkers to access critical mental health resources,” said New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud.  “The initiative of a phone equipped with both NYC Access HRA and MyCity apps can save lives. We must provide clinically vulnerable New Yorkers with continuous access to immediate help if they are in crisis. I commend NYC Health + Hospitals for their commitment to focusing on positive mental health outcomes.”

“Today, CHS establishes a groundbreaking smartphone access program which will provide people released from Rikers who have significant mental and physical health needs with free smartphones, pre-programmed with instant access to everything needed to become self-sufficient,” said New York State Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar. “The program is part of the first-ever reentry service center on Rikers Island, a one-stop shop for people released from jail and their families to access healthcare and social services. This is essential for the formerly incarcerated to obtain employment, housing, healthcare, food relief, and family support—all pillars of reintegration. I fully support this program, which is a lifeline for those released from prison to live productive, fulfilling lives.”

The smartphone access program builds on CHS’ robust reentry and transitional services, which are available to every person in custody starting on their first day in jail. At the new reentry service center, CHS staff will continue to assist individuals as they leave jail.

Premier Wireless’ partnership with CHS builds on its established record of working with organizations across the U.S. to improve the process of delivering services to and enabling self-sufficiency for underserved Americans, including formerly incarcerated individuals, homeless populations, refugees, Veterans, and older adults. Premier’s CPR3 program helps these vulnerable individuals connect to food and shelter, access telehealth services, develop life skills, find mental health support, strengthen relationships, and much more.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Jeanette Merrill, NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services

About NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services

Correctional Health Services (CHS), a division of NYC Health + Hospitals, is the direct provider of health care in New York City’s jails. Our in-jail services include: medical, nursing, and mental health care; social work services; substance-use treatment; dental and vision care; discharge planning; and reentry support. In addition to providing direct patient care, CHS leverages the resources of the nation’s largest municipal health care system to help discharged patients successfully return to their communities. CHS is also a pivotal partner in New York City’s criminal-legal reform efforts.

About NYC Health + Hospitals

NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal health care system in the nation. We are a network of 11 hospitals, trauma centers, neighborhood health centers, nursing homes, and post-acute care centers. We are a home care agency and a health plan, MetroPlus. Our health system provides essential services to more than one million New Yorkers every year in more than 70 locations across the city’s five boroughs. Our diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About Premier Wireless

Premier Wireless Business Technology Solutions specializes in technology that enables safety, innovation, communication, and transformation. Premier’s CPR³ solution provides a lifeline to some of the most basic, yet critical, local and national resources including food, housing, healthcare, and crisis hotlines for our country’s most vulnerable citizens. Furthermore, it has the ability to change a life by providing access to educational resources, job training, transportation, and childcare. Each CPR3 device includes a hand-held computing device, a phone, high-speed 5G internet access, and hotspot functionality to connect additional devices to the internet.