Juvenile Justice Reform Passes Senate

 

Legislation helps youth offenders access skills & resources to become
healthy, contributing members of society

The Senate Democratic Majority has passed a legislative package to ensure common sense protections for troubled youth, and guarantee the services and resources these children need in the state’s juvenile justice system in order to grow up and become healthy, contributing members of society.
 
Led by Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Chair of the Senate’s Committee on Children and Families, this legislative package will:

  • Prevent inappropriate detention placement (S6709C/Montgomery)
  • Provide alternatives to detention (S6711B/Montgomery)
  • Train youth offenders in vocational skills for employment (S6713/Montgomery)

 
Senator Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) said, "History was made today with the with the passage of my Juvenile Justice Reform Agenda that will go far to help youth who are in crisis. The heart of my Reform Agenda is Re-Direct New York (S6711B), legislation that provides important new opportunities and assistance for young people in trouble, and pumps new life into our efforts to  implement a landmark policy shift in the way New York responds to youth crime."
 
In underscoring the importance of these bills, Montgomery added, "The State's method of addressing youth crime is build around punishment instead of rehabilitation, setting youth up for a lifetime of trouble that could be avoided with a system that offers proper resources and programs designed for our at-risk youth. The time is long overdue for real reform of our juvenile justice system. The current system is broken and is breaking our children in mind, body and spirit. The reform proposals that we passed today seek to heal, not harm, by continuing to shift New York away from the correctional approach to a therapeutic, rehabilitative model. We want to help produce positive outcomes for our young people and this cannot be accomplished without rightsizing and rethinking the system."
 
Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, "Today’s vote is a confirmation that strong advocacy for our youth is a priority and a necessity.  Institutionalizing children who pose no significant risk to public safety is not always the best solution, especially if they are not receiving the mental health or substance abuse counseling that they need there.  With forward-thinking legislation, juvenile offenders have a fighting chance at a future where they can be productive in their homes and communities.”
 
Preventing Inappropriate Detention Placement
Provides that a child shall not be placed with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) at the conclusion of a dispositional hearing unless the court finds that discharge would not be appropriate and that the child poses a significant threat to public safety.  An amendment to the Family Court Act, this legislation would prevent inappropriate placement of children in detention facilities. For more information visit: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6709C
 
Provides Alternatives to Detention
Provides reimbursement from OCFS to localities in order to fund alternatives to detention and institutional placement programs for court-involved children. This legislation would expand the use of alternatives to juvenile justice detention and institutional placement programs. For more information visit: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6711B
 
Giving Youth Offenders the Skills they Need to Succeed
Establishes a pilot program to provide job and vocational skills training to youth who have been adjudicated juvenile offenders.  For those offenders who reside in OCFS detention facilities, this legislation would allow them to get job and vocational training through a collaboration with the NYS Department of Labor. For more information visit: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6713
 
Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said, “Children in the juvenile justice system need strong support in order to become the productive adults they desire to be. Many of these children currently in the system need more than a correctional approach, they need mental health and substance abuse counseling as well as training to build their social and vocational skills. I commend Senator Montgomery for her determination to reform the current juvenile justice system in order to provide our youth the opportunities they deserve.”
 
Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said, "If we give kids who have been in some trouble in past a legitimate opportunity to grow and develop into adults in a positive environment then there is a much greater chance that they won't be repeat offenders. Just because some children make poor decisions at a young age doesn't mean that all hope is lost for their future. These kids deserve the opportunity to develop positive and practical job skills that can help them the future."
 
Senator Shirley L. Huntley (D-Jamaica) said, “I commend my Democratic colleagues for aggressively advocating for at-risk youth who desperately need our help. Today’s legislation affirms our commitment to keeping non-violent youth offenders out of harsh detention centers and into a more rehabilitative environment where they can grow.”