The closing of the troubled Tryon Boys Residential Center in upstate New York is due to budget gaps that plague states across the USA – but also is a sign of pressure on the state to improve its juvenile detention system, reports USA Today. The economy is forcing New York and other states to scrutinize a system that costs $210,000 per child annually. “One of the great ironies is that the economic crisis may be accomplishing what advocates like me have been saying for 30 years,” says Mark Soler of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. “It’s just too expensive to lock up the kids.”
New York’s juvenile system, which has 31 residential facilities, is one of the nation’s largest. More than half of youths in detention are there because of misdemeanors. More than 80 percent are black or Hispanic. Since 2000, the Justice Department has conducted at least 11 investigations into juvenile facilities in states including California, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland and Oklahoma. Its findings illustrate that the same problems persist: overreliance on physical restraint and insufficient mental health services.