January 6, 2010
"Juvenile Injustice"The title of this post is the headline of this editorial in today's New York Times. Here are excerpts:
Gladys Carrión, New York’s reform-minded commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services, has been calling on the state to close many of its remote, prison-style juvenile facilities and shift resources and children to therapeutic programs located in their communities. Her efforts have met fierce and predictably self-interested resistance from the unions representing workers in juvenile prisons and their allies in Albany.
A recent series of damning reports have underscored the flaws in New York’s juvenile justice system and the urgent need to shut down these facilities. The governor and the State Legislature need to pay attention....
Not surprisingly, these institutions do a terrible job of rehabilitation. According to a study of children released from custody between 1991 and 1995, 89 percent of the boys and 81 percent of the girls were eventually rearrested. New York’s facilities are so disastrous and inhumane that state officials recently asked the courts to refrain from sending children to them, except in cases in which they presented a clear danger to the public.
Mr. Paterson’s task force was rightly impressed with Missouri’s juvenile justice system. It has adopted smaller regional facilities that focus on rehabilitation and house troubled youths as close to home as possible in order to involve parents and community groups in the therapeutic process. Missouri also has cut recidivisim rates by smoothing re-entry and helping young people with drug treatment, education or job placement.
New York clearly needs to follow Ms. Carrión’s advice and adopt a Missouri-style system. That means the Legislature will finally have to put the needs of the state’s children ahead of the politically powerful unions and upstate lawmakers who want to preserve jobs — and the disastrous status quo — at all costs.
January 6, 2010 at 07:34 AM | Permalink
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Don't do it New York. The closing of DC's larger lock-down juvenile facility and the insistence on "community alternatives" has led to a string of killings and nothing but further dysfunction in the Capitol's juve justice system. As carefully documented by Colbert King of the Washington Post, placing at-risk youth back into the same dysfunctional communities that nurtured their previous criminality rather than confining them has predicable and sad results.
But what's a few dead poor kids compared to the clear conscience and good intentions of the elites in the media and on the bench?
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