Youth Justice

On any given day, thousands of children wake up behind bars in the United States. Most are charged with non-violent, low-level offenses and pose no threat to public safety. Many are youth of color from low-income urban communities who have engaged in behaviors that would likely be dismissed as “teens being teens” in more affluent neighborhoods.

New York, like many states, lacks the independent external, oversight mechanisms necessary to ensure incarcerated children are safe and receiving the services and supports they need. Young people in residential care are inherently at risk of violence and abuse, and this lack of oversight leaves young people vulnerable. Greater transparency measures, such as public data sharing and the appointment of an independent external oversight agency can help hold government accountable for the safety and success of the children in its care.

Additionally, New York is one of only two states that automatically prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. In adult facilities, children are far more likely to be raped or to commit suicide than their counterparts in youth facilities. Compared to incarcerated adults, they are more often attacked by other incarcerated individuals and assaulted by staff. Not only does prosecuting children as adults place young people in harm’s way, it has also been shown to produce higher rates of recidivism and violence.

Too often, the youth justice system contributes to a vicious cycle of poverty and incarceration that primarily affects communities of color. Youth who have been incarcerated are less likely to return to school, have trouble finding jobs, and are more likely to recidivate. In contrast, community-based supervision programs have proven to increase positive life outcomes for youth and reduce recidivism.

Perhaps most importantly, youth and families must be meaningfully involved in the policy debate on youth justice to ensure that policy decisions are not based on fear and stereotypes.

Through its Juvenile Justice Project (JJP), the CA works toward a safe, publicly transparent, and accountable youth justice system where positive youth development principles translate into positive outcomes for children and communities. JJP coordinates the Juvenile Justice Coalition, a statewide policy alliance working to reform the system, and organizes Safe Passages, a leadership and advocacy training program for LGBTQ young people.

Close

More

News | September 10, 2018

US inmates mark end of prison strike with push to regain voting rights

( Sept. 9. 2018,The Guardian) Inmates within America’s overflowing prisons are marking the end of a 19-day national prison strike on Sunday with a new push to regain the vote for up to 6 million Americans who have been stripped of their democratic rights.Read More

News | December 13, 2017

Correctional Association of New York releases “Solitary at Southport: A 2017 Report Based Upon the Correctional Assn.’s Visits, Data Analysis, & First-Hand Accounts of the Torture of Solitary Confinement from One of New York’s Supermax Prisons”

New York, NY (December 13, 2017): Today The Correctional Assn. of NY (CA), founded in 1844 and one of the oldest prison watchdog organizations in the country, released a 92-page report providing graphic first-hand depictions of physical, mental, and emotional abuse as a result of days, weeks, and often years of being caged in solitary confinement for 23 to 24 hours a day.Read More

News | October 18, 2017

NY sets new rules for solitary confinement in local jails

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York is adopting new standards for the treatment of prisoners held in solitary confinement in local jails, including mandated time outside their cell and increased reporting requirements in an effort to prevent prisoner mistreatment. The changes, issued Tuesday by the state's Commission on Correction, come amid heightened scrutiny of solitary confinement and its psychological effects on inmates.Read More

News | January 9, 2017

CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons January 9, 2017 (New York, NY): The Correctional Association of New York roundly applauds the continued commitment of Governor Andrew Cuomo to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York, ending the prosecution and incarceration of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.Read More

News | September 27, 2016

NYT Editorial: “Bringing Prison Guards to Justice”

The New York Times in this editorial today is saying what we at the CA have been reporting on for decades: without any any transparency and accountability, the abuse of people who are incarcerated will persist and those who are responsible will still act with impunity. Until accountability is the norm and not the exception, the abuse -- and in some cases, loss of life -- will continue.Read More

News | September 22, 2016

Board of the Correctional Association of New York Appoints Carlton S. Mitchell Interim Executive Director

CSM photo

On September 22, 2016, the Board of Directors of the Correctional Association of New York announced the appointment of Carlton S. Mitchell as Interim Executive Director. He will start his duties in September 2016. Read More

News | June 6, 2016

JUSTICE ADVOCATES BEGIN EXTENDED SLEEP-IN AT THE NY STATE CAPITOL TO URGE LAWMAKERS TO RAISE THE AGE

New York, NY (June 6, 2016): Today, advocates from across New York State will begin an extended sleep-in at the State Capitol, timed to coincide with the waning days of the legislative session, in order to push elected officials to pass legislation this year raising the age of criminal responsibility. New York remains one of only two states, along with North Carolina, to continue prosecuting 16-and 17-year-olds as adults. Juveniles in adult facilities are more likely to suffer sexual, mental and physical abuse, are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than those held in juvenile facilities, and have a higher rate of re-arrest and recidivism. Read More

News | June 6, 2016

Faith Leaders from Across New York Urge Cuomo, Flanagan and Heastie to Raise the Age this Session

Albany, NY- (June 6, 2016): Clergy from across New York State released a letter today addressed to Governor Cuomo, Senator Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Heastie calling on them to pass legislation that would raise the age at which youth are charged as adults in New York.Read More

News | May 12, 2016

CA Launches New Video Urging NYS Lawmakers to “Get Smart on Crime” and Raise the Age

New York, NY (May 12, 2016) Today, the Correctional Association of New York (CA) released a new online video aimed at getting legislation passed this session to raise the age of criminal responsibility and end the treatment of children as adults in the criminal justice system. Currently, New York is one of only two states in the country that prosecutes all 16- and 17- year-olds as adults, with zero exceptions. Children in adult jails and prisons face very high rates of sexual assault and rape and physical assaults, and are 36 percent more likely to commit suicide than children in youth facilities.Read More

News | April 12, 2016

Lawmakers, Advocates, and Survivors of Solitary Confinement Back Legislation Limiting Use of Isolation in New York’s Prisons and Jails

(April 12, 2016, Albany, NY): The New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) held a press conference with lawmakers and survivors on Tuesday to advocate for legislation that would limit the use of solitary confinement and other forms of isolation in New York’s prisons and jails. The press conference was part of a full day of activities by over 200 people from across the state to draw attention to the torture of solitary confinement and to advocate passage of the Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act, A. 4401 / S. 2659. Read More

CA in the Press | August 20, 2018

Advocates campaign against solitary confinement in Eltingville with makeshift cell

Staten Islanders had the opportunity Thursday night to briefly experience one of the hardest parts of our nation’s penal system. A group of advocates brought a makeshift solitary cell to the South Shore YMCA in Eltingville to show people the level of isolation inmates can face. The model was constructed by Doug Van Zandt, of Albany, after his son Benjamin hanged himself in a cell just like the 6-foot-by-9-foot model.Read More

CA in the Press | August 18, 2018

U.S. imprisons too many people

I am responding to a recent editorial in the Enterprise along with an opinion piece about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) recent comments about the American penal system. Although her remarks appear controversial to many, they have unfortunately detracted from a major and very real issue with the U.S. justice and penal system.Read More

CA in the Press | August 17, 2018

Release prisoners from solitary: This is psychological torture any way you put it

One candidate for New York governor, Cynthia Nixon, wants to abolish solitary confinement in our prisons. To New Yorkers like me who have survived this torture, that means she has done her homework. My first experience with solitary confinement was a 60-day sentence in what’s known as “Keeplock” at Coxsackie prison.Read More

CA in the Press | August 14, 2018

Experience solitary confinement at prison reform event

Ever wonder what it’s like to be in solitary confinement? The New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) is hosting an exhibition on injustice in the prison system on Thursday at the South Shore YMCA in Eltingville. The event is from 6 to 8 p.m., and will have a panel presentation, discussion and a replica of a solitary confinement cell.Read More

CA in the Press | December 14, 2017

VIDEO: Advocates renew push to end solitary confinement

Southport Correctional Facility is one of two super-maximum security prisons in the state that places an emphasis on solitary confinement. A new report looking at the facility’s practices is highlighting the negative impact solitary confinement can have on a human. So advocates are making a renewed push for the HALT Act.Read More

Press Release | December 14, 2017

MEDIA ADVISORY: Release of 2017 Report of First Hand Accounts of People in Solitary at Southport Prison

MEDIA ADVISORY: PRESS CONFERENCE New York (December 11, 2017): Lawmakers, Advocates, Southport solitary survivors, and Family Members join the Correctional Association of New York (CA) to release a stunning new CA report about Southport Prison, featuring first-hand accounts of brutality, self-harm, mental, emotional, and physical abuse at one of only two prisons in New York State devoted primarily to solitary confinement Calling for passage of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Bill A.3080/S.4784 WHAT: Public release of “Solitary at Southport A 2017 Report Based Upon the Correctional Assn.’s Visits, Data Analysis, & First-Hand Accounts of the Torture of Solitary Confinement from One of New York’s Supermax Prisons” WHEN: Wednesday, December 13, 12:30 PM WHERE: 250 Broadway, 22nd Floor, Room 2225 (I.D.Read More

CA in the Press | November 5, 2017

State struggles to provide prison health care

ALBANY — New York’s complex of 54 state prison facilities is struggling to fill vacant jobs for nurses, doctors and other health care providers. Filling those vacancies and dealing with an aging prison population at facilities across the state have become among the tallest challenges for the $3 billion correctional system, top administrators concede.Read More

CA in the Press | June 10, 2017

“I Have to Hold My Family Together”: The Hidden Costs of Prison Visits

This story is the seventh piece in the Truthout series, Severed Ties: The Human Toll of Prisons. This series dives deeply into the impact of incarceration on families, loved ones and communities, demonstrating how the United States' incarceration of more than 2 million people also harms many millions more -- including 2.7 million children.Read More

CA in the Press | May 5, 2017

Fixing Solitary Confinement In New York State Prisons

Victor Pate spent almost two years in solitary confinement in New York prisons, off and on. Once, he said, he was isolated for 90 days for having too many bed sheets in his room. Only two sheets were allowed per prisoner, but Pate was at his prison job when laundry pickup came, he said, so he kept a few extra sheets to ensure he would have clean ones.Read More

CA in the Press | March 28, 2017

Guest Essay: Raise the Age

New York remains one of only 2 states in the nation treating 16 and 17 year-olds as something they are not — adults— in our criminal justice system. This archaic approach increases the likelihood of more crime, more severe crime, and seriously damages the education, employment and long-term life prospects of our youth, particularly the African-American and Hispanic children disproportionately ensnared by our criminal justice system.Read More

Organizational Materials Prison Monitoring Reports Reports & Research

“Solitary at Southport: A 2017 Report Based Upon the Correctional Association’s Visits, Data Analysis, & First-Hand Accounts of the Torture of Solitary Confinement from One of New York’s Supermax Prisons”

“The isolation itself is torture. Mentally and emotionally, it breaks you down. Spiritually it strips you. The way it is built is to break you down as a person and push your family away.” From “Solitary at Southport” Solitary confinement is torture. New York State subjects people to solitary confinement and other forms of isolation at rates above the national average and in a racially disparate manner.Read More

Prison Monitoring Reports

Attica State Prison

Attica Correctional Facility, a 2,000-bed maximum security prison in western New York, continues to operate as a symbolic and real epicenter of state violence and abuse of incarcerated persons in the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) state prison system 43 years after the 1971 prison uprising and violent suppression by state authorities. Read More

Testimonies

NYS Joint Legislative Budget Hearing – Human Services: February 5, 2013

Gabrielle Horowitz-Prisco, director of the Correctional Association's Juvenile Justice Project, testified before the New York State Legislature on the Governor’s proposed budget for 2013-2014.Read More

Tags: ,

Testimonies

NYC City Council Oversight Hearing: January 24, 2013

Grade Pending NYC Health Dept. Sign.

Just as the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene makes unannounced and independent restaurant inspections and does not allow eateries to grade themselves on food safety, children in the justice system deserve an equal level of protection.Read More

Advocacy Tools Video

Why are New York’s youth being locked up like adults?

screenshot-capture-rta-vid

New York is one of just two states in the country that treats 16-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system. Read More

Tags:

Audio

Angelo Pinto on “Breaking New Grounds”

Angelo Pinto, Raise the Age Campaign Manager, appears on Lillian George’s "Breaking New Grounds" Radio Show to discuss our work to keep youth out of adult jails and prisons. Read More

Tags:

Reports & Research

When the Cure Makes You Ill: Seven Core Principles to Change the Course of Youth Justice

Our current youth justice system “systematically fails young people, their families, crime victims, and public safety, often at exorbitant taxpayer cost,” writes Gabrielle Prisco, director of the Correctional Association’s Juvenile Justice Project. Prisco’s article, When the Cure Makes You Ill: Seven Core Principles to Change the Course of Youth Justice, outlines seven principles necessary to transform the youth justice system, beginning with principle one: treat children as children.Read More

Organizational Materials

CA Bulletin: Summer 2012

In this issue; The Close to Home Initiative: youth leaders speak out; The Prison Rape Elimination Act; Welcome to CA’s new staff and board membersRead More

Video

Ties That Bind: Reimagining juvenile justice and child welfare for teens, families and communities

The Center for New York City Affairs forum on connection between child welfare and juvenile justice.Read More

Testimonies

Close to Home Initiative

The CA has, for many years, advocated for keeping children in custody closer to their homes and communities. We have also long advocated for ensuring that all youth justice programs and facilities, regardless of who operates them, promote positive outcomes while keeping youth and communities safe. The Close to Home Initiative (CTHI) represents a unique and powerful opportunity to re-create the youth justice system for New York City’s youth and communities. Details of the plan are, however, of paramount importance.Read More

Tags: