N.Y. Task Force Created to Improve State Juvenile Justice System

ALBANY, N.Y. — State officials created a new task force to improve New York’s juvenile justice system, which serves nearly 1,900 children annually at a cost of up to $200,000 per ward.

The Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice, formed by Gov. David A. Paterson, will work to transform the system by seeking alternatives to institutional placement, improving community reentry programs, and redefining confinement conditions for youth offenders.

“It is imperative that our state seek alternatives to a costly system that is not serving New York’s children, families and communities well,” Paterson says. “With 80 percent of the children in New York’s custody released and rearrested within three years, reform of New York’s juvenile justice system will not only provide those children with necessary services for success, but will translate into safer communities across the state.”

The committee will also examine ways to improve substance abuse and mental illness treatment programs for juveniles and lower the disproportionate amount of minority youth in the system.

More than 75 percent of the juvenile system’s 1,900 wards are black or Latino.

The panel will include local, state and national experts in several fields, including law enforcement, academia and government- and community-based organizations.

Jeremy Travis, president of City University of New York’s College of Criminal Justice, will serve as chairman, and Gladys Carrion, commissioner of the state’s Office of Children and Family Services, will oversee the task force.

The Vera Institute of Justice, a non-profit research center based in Manhattan, will manage the committee’s daily operations.