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.

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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

News | March 23, 2016

CA Launches Online Video Campaign Urging Governor, Assembly and Senate Heads to Keep “Raise the Age” Bill in Budget

(March 23, 2016, New York, NY): Today, the Correctional Association of New York (CA) launched an online video campaign aimed at pressuring lawmakers to raise the age of criminal responsibility. The release of the videos, which range from 30 to 90 seconds in length, is timed to coincide with the intense budget discussions currently taking place in Albany, as the April 1 deadline looms over the process.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

CA in the Press | February 19, 2017

Petition: Cuomo’s plan to reduce visitation at NY maximum security prisons ‘cruel’

A petition has been signed by more than 2,100 people opposing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to reduce visitation at New York’s 17 maximum security correctional facilities. As of Saturday afternoon, there are 2,102 supporters of the petition titled “Don’t Restrict Visits in NYS Prisons!” The petition calls the governor’s plan to alter the visitation policy “regressive, counterproductive and cruel.” The initial goal for the petition is 2,500 supporters.Read More

CA in the Press | January 26, 2017

Cuomo wants to cut visitation, positions at Auburn, other NY maximum security prisons

Photo: Auburn Citizen A proposal in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017-18 executive budget would reduce the visitation schedule at New York’s 17 maximum security correctional facilities and result in the elimination of 39 positions. Under the governor’s plan, the number of days visitors are allowed at maximum security prisons would be reduced from seven to three.Read More

CA in the Press | January 26, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Cuomo proposes reduction in visitation days for inmates at state’s maximum security prisons

ALBANY – Inmates at the state’s maximum security prisons are facing fewer visits from people on the outside under a proposal by Gov. Cuomo. Cuomo in his budget plan unveiled last week tucked in a plan to reduce the number of days in which visits are allowed at maximum-security state prisons to three days a week, down from seven.Read More

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| January 13, 2017

Activist Check-In Podcast: Raise the Age with Angelo Pinto

In New York State, 16 and 17-year-olds arrested or detained can be sent to adult prisons and jails. Despite multiple studies that show a teenager’s brain functions are not fully developed, our state insists on charging young people like adults, creating a generation of over-incarcerated youth in New York. We sat down to speak with Justice League Member, Angelo Pinto about the campaign to raise the age.Read More

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CA in the Press | January 3, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Alleviating the Pain When a Parent Is in Jail

To the Editor: Re “Serving as a Role Model During a Father’s Absence” (The Neediest Cases, Dec. 21): It’s nice to see young Jaylen benefit from the MentorCHIP program. But children whose parents are incarcerated need regular visits with their parents. Studies show that children’s emotional, scholastic and social adjustment improve when they have regularly scheduled visits to alleviate the pain of losing a parent.Read More

CA in the Press | December 27, 2016

For Thousands in New York’s Prisons, Christmas is Just Another Day in Solitary Confinement

Nicholas Zimmerman will spend Christmas locked in his cell at Clinton Correctional Facility, the men’s state prison 20 miles from the Canadian border. Instead of opening presents with his family, he’ll wake to a breakfast tray slid through a slot in his door. He’ll spend most, if not all, of the day inside his cell.Read More

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Prison Monitoring Reports Reports & Research Testimonies

“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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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