After years of abuse as they languished in New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex, the city’s youngest inmates will be placed in a new facility in the Bronx, under a long-term plan announced by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, The New York Daily News reports. The plan would spare 16- and 17-year-olds the often harsh treatment that comes with living among older, sometimes more hardened inmates, and bring them services more suitable for their age, including classroom time and targeted counseling. “When you’re a teenager in trouble with the law, it’s not too late to get on the right path — and we need to provide the right environment to help that happen,” de Blasio said.
With a price tag of nearly $300 million, the project would take four years to complete. The teens would be housed in the Horizon Complex, in a building now used by Administration for Children’s Services. the plan represents a shift over the last few years in the city’s thinking on how to treat young offenders, lifting them off the remote, foreboding confines of Rikers and making visits from relatives far easier. It would mark the first time since 1932 that adolescents are housed outside Rikers. New York is one of just two states, along with North Carolina, to prosecute 16- and 17-year olds as adults.