Two good letters ran on the New York Times editorial page today in response to last Saturday’s “Juvenile Detention Trap.” Here is a link to that editorial, in case you missed it, and here are the letters, in full:
To the Editor:
Re “Juvenile Detention Trap” (editorial, Jan. 5):
As an agency with extensive juvenile justice programming, we applaud your endorsement of community-based alternatives to detention and your call for government to create more of these opportunities and incentives for struggling young people.
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services should be credited with piloting one such approach — it finances the Children’s Aid Re-entry Program. Young people returning to the city from upstate detention centers are resettled in school, connected with an adult counselor, and transition into neighborhood Boys and Girls Clubs for ongoing employment, education and youth development activities.
This currently occurs post-detention, but holds promise as an alternative to detention.
Doesn’t it make more sense to redirect these young people into appropriate school programs, employment and counseling in the community than to condemn them to the likelihood of recidivism, which has been the fate of most who do not receive the community-based supports that they need?
C. Warren Moses
Chief Executive, The Children’s Aid Society
New York, Jan. 5, 2008
To the Editor:
The most troubling aspect of New York City’s juvenile detention policies is their disparate impact on children of color.
Of the nearly 6,000 children entering a city detention center last year, nearly 95 percent were African-American or Latino. Although the disproportionate confinement of youth of color is a common phenomenon across the country, some cities, most notably Portland, Ore., and Santa Cruz, Calif., have made real progress in reducing racial disparities in youth incarceration.
As New York City undertakes much needed juvenile justice reforms, the most important challenge will be creating policies to reduce the overrepresentation of children of color in our juvenile jails and prisons.
New York, Jan. 7, 2008
The writer is director of the Juvenile Justice Project for the Correctional Association of New York.