State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C - Schenectady) and fellow members of the Special Legislative Task Force on Reform of the New York State Juvenile Justice System spoke out today against the policies concerning juvenile inmates and are calling for the resignation of Office of Family and Children Services (OCFS) Commissioner Gladys Carrion.
The policy shifts that Carrion is implementing are creating a dangerous environment for staff to work in as well as creating concern within communities on how juvenile criminals will be treated for their personal issues.
The latest problems and questions with OCFS leadership involve a recent scandal concerning a social event held at a downstate juvenile inmate secure center. Several inmates had reached "good behavior" status after only three months and were rewarded for their conduct. The reward was allegedly abused.
"The policy that led to the scandal, and the troubling lack of oversight in implementing it, is one more reason staff have grave concerns about working for Ms. Carrion," Senator Farley said.
Senator Farley has tried to assist Tryon staff in dealing with the Commissioner when concerns came out over the past few years over restraint policies and other staffing issues. Carrion and Governor Paterson are trying to close the Tryon Boys facility as part of the budget.
"Policy changes, and a lack of leadership, have endangered both the staff and the residents at OCFS facilities. Many hard-working staff feel abandoned and betrayed by the leadership at OCFS. Also, I remain alarmed by the proposed downsizing of facilities and the unrealistic policy shift toward less secure community residences. These residences will not provide the services and oversight that are needed, and they raise troubling concerns for the communities that will be affected," Senator Farley said.
Senator Farley had joined the special task force on the State juvenile justice system last year that investigated the disturbing trend of youth violence at State-operated facilities. Senator Farley had spoken to Tryon staff numerous times about new policies that have put staff's lives in danger.
"This latest incident is one too many," Senator Farley said. "We need new leadership at OCFS that can truly balance the needs of the juveniles with the needs of the staff."
To view Senator Farley's comments on this issue, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KysUcMss7f0