Excessive physical force was routinely used to discipline children at four juvenile prisons in New York State, resulting in broken bones, shattered teeth, concussions, and dozens of other serious injuries in less than two years, says a U.S. Justice Department report quoted by the New York Times. The federal government could take over the state's youth prison system if the problems are not addressed quickly.
State officials are in the middle of an overhaul of the New York juvenile prison system, which houses children convicted of criminal acts who are too young to serve in adult jails and prisons. Investigators found that physical force was often the first response to any act of insubordination by residents, who are under 16, despite rules allowing force only as a last resort. “Staff at the facilities routinely used uncontrolled, unsafe applications of force, departing from generally accepted standards,” said the report, which was given to Gov. David Paterson Aug. 14.