Paterson Tells Judges: Stop Sending Kids to State Facilities

NBCNewYork.com obtains advance copy of state report

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCNewYork.com

    After repeated fits of rage at home a 16-year-old is about to head upstate to what's been described as one of the most brutal juvenile detention facilities in New York.

    "I am a single mom. My son's father is deceased so it's been hard for me. I depend on the state to help me out and I feel like I haven't gotten anywhere," his mother told NBCNewYork.com.

    Report: State Facilities are no Place for Most Children

    [NY] Report: State Facilities are no Place for Most Children
    nbcnewyork.com has obtained an advance copy of another disturbing report about how New York state treats children who get into trouble with the law. It includes allegations of physical abuse, allegations mental health problems are ignored as well as drug addictions.

    She says her attempts to get her son counseling close to home failed.

    "My son is an adolescent he's going through puberty he's overall a good kid. He might be a little misguided at this moment. I don't feel like sending him to a secure locked facility is the type of situation that that's gonna be helpful to any child."

    What's remarkable is that the officials running the state juvenile detention system agree children should not be sent there because the system is failing and children are regularly subjected to excessive physical force.

    NBC New York has learned the Paterson administration has asked family court judges to stop sending children to its facilities unless they pose a severe risk to public safety.

    A recent justice department investigation found the upstate facilities regularly subject residents to excessive force and even injuries for offenses as minor as sneaking an extra cookie.

    "We are placing children in places where their needs are not being met and where they may face harm. It's of great concern to the judges of the family court," Judge Edwina Richardson Mendelson, told NBCNewYork.com.

    She is the administrative judge of the New York city family court system. She says judges have very few options and not enough alternatives to incarceration. Even if there were, judges don't even have the authority to send juvenile offenders into mental helath or substance abuse treatment programs.

    A report by Governor Paterson's task force on juvenile justice, scheduled to be released Monday, finds "by incarcerating thousands of children for misdemeanors, hundreds of miiles away from home the state is "harming its children, wasting money and endangering its public."

    The report recommends downsizing the system and reinvesting the money in services in the neighborhoods where these kids come from.

    "We are either going to spend the money now and provide the services that our children require or we are going to pay a big price at a later date when these children are part of the adult criminal justice system or they're back in family court accused of abusing their children," said Judge Mendelson.