New York’s juvenile justice system is slowly being overhauled under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Close to Home initiative, with about 250 city youth in upstate facilities slated to be transferred to the city’s care by the end of the month, reports the New York Daily News. Gladys Carrion, commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services, said young offenders will be transferred from non-secure facilities to programs run by the city Administration for Children’s Services. “The idea was really to ensure that young people are in their community, that their families are more readily available to visit them,” said Carrion. “There is a lot of transition planning for re-entry into the community.”
Youth in limited-secure facilities are scheduled to be transferred next year. In 2001, there were 2,229 youth admitted to 19 juvenile facilities run by the state agency, which includes secure, non-secure, limited secure and voluntary agency-operated facilities. As several facilities have closed, and an emphasis has been placed on alternative-to-incarceration programs, that figure dropped to 934 youth last year. Carrion said a “vast majority” of juveniles - who are low-level nonviolent offenders - do not belong in hardened youth prisons like Tryon Residential Center, a dangerous facility probed by the federal government for brutal conditions and lack of adequate mental healthcare. Cuomo decided to close it down after taking a tour in 2010.