New York Gov. David Paterson is creating a task force to look at ways to improve the state’s juvenile justice system, reports the Albany Times Union. The Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice will explore alternatives to institutionalizing juvenile offenders. It is chaired by Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The move comes as the state Office of Children and Family Services is revamping the institutions in an effort to make them more rehabilitative and less prison-like.
Commissioner Gladys Carrion also is moving to close some upstate facilities. Noting that many juvenile offenders are from the New York City area, she’d rather have them treated in their communities than in centers located hundreds of miles from their homes and families. The task force also plans to find ways to assist the re-entry of children into the community. New York’s juvenile justice system serves nearly 1,900 children, most of whom are black or Hispanic. Nearly 80 percent who go through the system are arrested again within three years.