RAISE THE AGE
The Juvenile Detention Association of New York State, Inc. (JDANYS) is a nonprofit, professional organization incorporated in 1978 that is committed to promoting excellence in the field of Juvenile Detention. Juvenile Detention facilities and programs are a state mandated component of the juvenile justice system in New York that are operated by localities and regulated by the Office of Children and Family Services. Services are provided by a network of governmental entities and private, not for profit agencies with the primary responsibility of keeping children and communities safe while assuring the attendance of children in the appropriate court. Children cared for in detention facilities are classified as; Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS), Juvenile Delinquents (JD) or Juvenile Offenders (JO). The detention system currently has two levels of care; secure and non-secure that are differentiated by the characteristics of the physical plant. Facilities receive and admit young people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are an integral resource for juvenile and criminal courts, and police agencies, including those in jurisdictions without their own detention resources.
The Juvenile Detention Association of New York State (JDANYS) strongly SUPPORTS the movement to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to age 18 through a phased approach. Research pertaining to brain development and the movement of all other states to accomplish this is well known to our association. We applauded the Commission on Youth, Public Safety, and Justice that recognized the value and effectiveness of the services being provided to young people in the juvenile justice system. We support the Governor’s proposal to move forward with this initiative and, as representatives of jurisdictions statewide, we hope that this association is a partner in this process. Members of this Association play integral roles in the system and have many years of experience on the front lines of the juvenile justice system. We recognize that there will be challenges in this process, and hope to avoid the lack of planning for detention by our oversight agency that has resulted in the drastic reduction of bed capacity and closure of facilities in recent years. This has often resulted in children being transported several hours in law enforcement vehicles across the state to the only available detention bed. It has also been the case that some localities have been unable to locate a detention bed, creating a risk to public safety. We think this is wrong for children and might only get worse if we are not well represented in the planning process.
This Association recognizes the need for significant planning in the following areas:
JUVENILE DETENTION CAPACITY – Capacity overall will be a major issue. Along with bed capacity, resources to deal with this older population of young person MUST be addressed. Many of our current facilities are in need of capital resources to upgrade and renovate the physical plants. Staff training in how to effectively deal with these young adults will be essential. There will be a need to develop a “needs assessment” to see where programs and facilities need to be developed in order to cease the practice of transporting these young people hours away from their families, the courts, and their legal representation.
RESEARCH AND PLANNING- The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is the state agency most responsible for planning in the area of juvenile justice. OCFS has always claimed, but never actively supported, a regional approach to location and the provision of detention services. The Raise the Age initiative will not be well served by a lack of research or planning around this issue. This Association SUPPORTS the removal of 16 and 17 year olds, who are being held in county jails or correctional facilities on misdemeanor or low level felonies into the Family Court system. These young people will pose the least threat to the safety of our communities. We OPPOSE the Governor’s plan to remove the availability of juvenile detention facilities for PINS children. The primary behavior of most PINS is runaway behavior. While they are on the run, they often expose themselves to many safety issues including sex trafficking. To think that these young people will stay voluntarily in foster family care is simply naïve.
EDUCATION AND MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES – Young people being admitted into detention facilities today most often have significant mental health issues and many have given up on education. Both of these issues are significant impediments to them being successful in the community. Unfortunately, juvenile detention facilities are not provided with the educational resources that are equivalent to the public school system and in fact, they are not even equivalent to the educational funding available to county operated correctional facilities and jails through the Incarcerated Youth Act. Appropriate resources and services must be considered as part of this initiative.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Robyn L. Krueger, President, JDANYS Chair
Claudia Engelhardt, Legislative