New York City plans to merge its juvenile justice department into its child welfare agency, signaling a more therapeutic approach toward delinquency that will send fewer troubled teenagers to jail, the New York Times reports. Youths who commit crimes but are considered not dangerous will have easier access to an expanding assortment of in-home programs. This will allow them to stay in their neighborhoods under rules requiring them to stay out of trouble, keep curfews, and meet educational goals.
Community-based therapy meant to set young offenders on more productive paths in life, is a growing alternative to sending youths to notorious state-run juvenile prisons, which a state task force recently described as broken, ineffective and dangerous. “Our No. 1 recommendation was that the state system of juvenile prisons be downsized,” said Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who led the task force, “and the key element of success in meeting that goal is to provide effective community-based strategies for young people so judges don't have to send them off to juvenile detention.”