New York City’s Corporation Counsel now is handling juvenile delinquency cases in the Brooklyn borough, rather than the District Attorney’s office. The Village Voice says the new prosecutors are taking a harder line, meaning that “more Brooklyn kids are being uprooted from their families and sent to juvenile jails, instead of getting counseling, mentoring, or other attempts at community-based rehabilitation.” Legal Aid attorney Katherine Mullen says the Corporation Counsel’s office is eager to point to the number of kids remanded to detention facilities.
Larry Busching, the Corporation Counsel’s new Family Court chief, says prosecutors may recommend that kids be placed with the state’s Office of Children and Family Services for any number of valid reasons, not simply because they should be harshly punished. Sometimes the kid’s home life is unstable and the parents have no control, he says. The structure offered by placement, he adds, can give a delinquent kid relief from physical or sexual abuse. Margaret Loftus of the nonprofit Juvenile Justice Project complains that, “It’s all very well and good for [prosecutors] to say they are remanding kids for their own benefit, but studies show it doesn’t work. Taking kids out of their homes to ‘fix’ them ends up making them worse.”