The Correctional Association of NY applauds New York State’s plan to downsize excess beds in its juvenile justice system noting that the plan will help children, communities and taxpayers

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Contact: Soffiyah Elijah
Executive Director
Correctional Association
212-254-5700, ext. 305

Gabrielle Prisco
Director, Juvenile Justice Project
(212) 254-5700, ext. 315

The Correctional Association of New York applauds Governor Cuomo and Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Gladys Carrión for their recent announcement of a plan to downsize excess capacity at eight state-operated juvenile justice facilities.  The plan, which went into motion on Wednesday June 8, 2011, includes closing four centers and reducing capacity in four others.  The beds that are being eliminated have long remained empty.  Admissions to New York State facilities have for years steadily decreased, following a similar trend throughout the country as more local programs keep youth with lower level offenses under community-based supervision.  Community-based supervision and treatment has been demonstrated to result in lower recidivism rates, increased positive youth outcomes, and greater public safety.

The plan moves children in state custody to juvenile justice facilities closer to their homes, allowing for more family visitation, increased family involvement and smoother transitions back to communities.  Family engagement in services and effective community re-entry plans are significant factors in reducing recidivism and are critical to ensuring that children return to their communities prepared for success.

These beds have remained open at an astronomical cost to taxpayers despite the fact that they have been unoccupied by children for a significant period of time.  The plan will result in a full annual savings to taxpayers of approximately $26.3 million.  New York State’s plan will result in lower bed costs for localities by consolidating operations and eliminating unneeded and empty beds.  The Correctional Association urges Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Carrión, and the Legislature to build upon the success of downsizing by reinvesting the resulting cost savings in desperately needed services for young people with juvenile justice involvement. The State should act now to increase sustainable investments in community-based supervision and mental health, substance abuse and educational services.  These types of investments have been proven to yield significant long-term positive outcomes for children, communities, and public safety.