New life for Claremont jail

This Bronx building is being given a second chance to change people’s lives.

The 106-year-old Claremont building, last used as the Fulton Community Correctional Facility for inmates close to completing their sentences, will soon make a fresh start as a reentry facility for ex-prisoners.

The seven story brick building at 1511 Fulton Avenue once housed a synagogue and a church house before the the correctional facility opened in 1975.

Gov. Cuomo finally ordered the prison facility closed in 2011.

The shuttered jail will now be renovated and run by the Osborne Association, a non-profit that works with the formerly incarcerated and runs several programs on Rikers Island.

The organization, with support from Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., recently received a grant from the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services to to transform the decommissioned Fulton Correctional Facility into the Fulton Economic Development and Community Reentry Center.

The transformed Fulton will offer emergency and interim housing to men and women released from New York’s prisons and jails, as well as help them to find jobs and social services.

“Because of Bronx Borough President Diaz’s support, the Bronx stands ready to take the lead in fostering innovative opportunities to formerly incarcerated individuals as they return to their families and communities,” says Elizabeth Gaynes, executive director of the Osborne Association. “The grant enables us to take a big step toward making this project a reality and turning this former prison into a beacon of hope and possibility in the Bronx.”

Osborne, whose main facility is located on Westchester Ave. in Melrose, has committed to making $6 million in renovations to the facility.

The grant will go to stripping away window bars and steel doors and replacing a warren of offices and security barriers with a vestibule and lobby that will open into the original monumental staircase, restoring some of the building’s former grandeur as a house of worship and community center.

In the next few months, Osborne will begin a community engagement process to determine the organizations and services that will best fit the facility’s needs.

Despite a recent decline in crime, the Bronx still leads the city in the number of people either incarcerated or on parole.

As of 2011, more than 4,700 individuals from the Bronx are on parole and close to 10,000 are under probation supervision, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

“This is a major development for our borough, and shows the continued commitment our office has to the reentry population of the borough” Diaz said. “Osborne has brought as many partners as possible to this development, ensuring that it will be home to a unique, holistic and comprehensive combination of services. I am proud to support this interesting new development, and my office will continue its work with our reentry population.”

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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