This week’s guest on Radio Civil Liberties–a weekly broadcast produced by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which airs live every Saturday at 11 a.m. on WBBF AM 1120 in Buffalo–was Mishi Faruqee, director of the Juvenile Justice Project at the Correctional Association of New York. (Listen to the streaming audio here.)
“Right now we have a juvenile justice system that is broken,” she began. “We have a system where 80 percent of the people who are released from youth facilities are rearrested within three years. We have a system where over 85 percent of the young people who are incarcerated in our facilities are African-American or Latino, which is way out of proportion of young people of color’s representation in the state youth population. And the other thing that is very distressing…is the huge amount of money that we’re spending on incarcerating young people, with very little return on that money.”
As you can imagine, the conversation addressed community-based alternatives to incarceration–family counseling, educational advocacy, emphasis on job-skills training–that are available and proven to reduce crime with better success and at lower cost than prisons. And, as you can imagine, Faruqee makes a compelling case for shutting down the half-dozen empty and underused youth prison facilities upstate. “The Senate is trying to keep open three facilities: one that is completely empty, that has no kids in it right now; one that has two children in it, the Brace Youth Facility; and another that has ten children in it,” she explained. “The thing that I want to emphasize the most is just how wasteful the Senate plan is,” she said. For those who have a stake in this debate or who are just chiming in, this interview is incredibly informative, not to be missed.
Faruqee, meanwhile, will be missed. Earlier this week she announced that in May, after seven years with the Juvenile Justice Project, she’ll be leaving to join the New York office of the Children’s Defense Fund, where she’ll head up the Youth Justice Programs. Different hat, similar mission: with Faruqee on their side, New York’s troubled youth have had, and will continue to have, a powerful and forceful advocate.
Congratulations, Mishi, and best of luck!