ALBANY, N.Y. — New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently released a statement supporting a plan to abolish the placement of teenage prisoners within adult prisons.
The State of New York is still one of the only state’s in the country that still houses teenage prisoners with adults, and Cuomo has verbally expressed his discontent with the subject.
“This is one of those issues that has gone on for a long, long time without resolution,” said Cuomo.
One of his many reasonings behind the support is that recent studies have shown that teenage prisoners are much more likely to be assaulted, both sexually and violently, in adult prisons. And victimization has only increased in past years. In fact, today there are around 800 teenage inmates in New York’s adult prison system, and the majority of them tend to be victimized, especially those around the age of 16 or 17.
The amount of high-targeting by the adult inmates has resulted in increase suicide attempts by these younger prisoners, especially in comparison to the teenage prisoners that are actually held in a juvenile detention facility, according to Cuomo. Cuomo, along with the commission involved with the issue, guaranteed that by 2017 all teenage prisoners would be in a new youth court system, resulting in a new juvenile detention facility system that should be smaller than the current one.
The commission has also expressed the desire to allow teenagers who have not committed violent crimes to have their permanent records expunged after their release, as long as they do not commit another crime after their release from the detention facility. The commission, along with Cuomo, hope that the proposed ideas will appeal to both political parties in the state, as some of the reforms regarding correctional facilities and inmate rights that Cuomo has changed have been highly opposed by the Republican groups.
Juvenile corrections, however, should in theory be an important issue for both parties, and resolving these issues will benefit both sides of the spectrum of politics. According to Jeremy Creelan, a co-chair of the commission, “Young offenders who stay out of trouble will get a second chance so they can get jobs, enter the Army, or college, or law school, and New York State will once again be the nation’s true leader in juvenile justice.”