CA Disappointed, Dismayed that Governor’s Removal of 16- And-17-Year-Olds From Adult Prisons Will Keep Youth Under DOCCS Authority

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Annette Warren-Dickerson, Communications Director
adickerson@correctionalassociation.org  646-539-5911
Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director
selijah@correctionalassociation.org  617-905-7623

CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK DISAPPOINTED, DISMAYED THAT GOVERNOR’S REMOVAL OF 16- AND 17- YEAR-OLDS FROM ADULT PRISONS
WILL KEEP YOUTH UNDER DOCCS AUTHORITY

Says That Youth Will Remain Vulnerable to Abuse by Guards and Will Lack Access toNecessary Support and Age-Appropriate Services

(December 23, 2015, New York, NY): Today, the Correctional Association of New York (CA) released the following statement in response to the announcement yesterday that Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order to remove 16- and 17-year-old youths from adult prisons:

The Correctional Association of New York is disappointed that Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order removes sixteen- and seventeen-year-old youth from adult prisons, only to place them in a separate facility under the total supervision of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). Through our unique legislative mandate to monitor the state’s prison system, the CA has consistently found DOCCS staff routinely mistreats and abuses people in their custody and deprives them of the quality mental health, education, and supportive services they need and deserve. Furthermore, the CA’s visit to Greene Correctional Facility, where the median age of incarcerated people is 22, found that 97% of those incarcerated stated that corrections officers subjected younger people to greater harm and violence than other people in custody. This Executive Order does not address or ameliorate any of the immense harms youth face in New York’s adult prisons.

We are further dismayed that sixteen and seventeen year-old youth in New York State will not have direct access to developmentally appropriate and necessary services and programs operated by the state’s youth justice agency, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). We are also troubled by the decision to house 16-and 17- year- old male youth classified as maximum security in Coxsackie and exclude them from access to any of the youth-appropriate evidence-based services from which they would clearly benefit.

We call on the Governor and the legislature to commit to passing comprehensive legislation in the 2016 legislation session that raises the age of criminal responsibility in New York State to 18 and reforms our criminal justice system to promote the safety of the public and all children. Such legislation must include:

  • the removal of all sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds from adult jails as well as prisons;
  • robust options for diversion by local law enforcement and probation
  • all non-violent misdemeanor and felony cases being heard in Family Court, with a special Youth Part in adult court for more serious cases
  • placement of youth who need residential treatment in small settings that use evidence-based therapeutic youth development models
  • parental notification upon arrest
  • the sealing of records.

New York State, regrettably, continues to shamefully lag behind the country as one of two states that continues to arrest, prosecute, and treat all sixteen- and seventeen-year-old youth as adults without exception.