New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is asking New York State to turn over control of prisons and services for juvenile offenders to local governments, reports the New York Times. He said the change would end the failed and costly practice of shipping troubled young people from his city to upstate facilities far from their families. Bloomberg wants the state to close large detention centers that are mostly empty but fully staffed.
He said keeping children close to home and in the least restrictive setting that is appropriate would help reduce the “entirely unacceptable” recidivism rates: 81 percent of boys in the system return within three years of their release. The juvenile prisons represent well-paying jobs in struggling areas. The New York State Public Employees Federation successfully advocated for a change to state law in 2006 that required a year's notice before facilities could be closed. One state official said the mayor's proposal for returning offenders to the city could drain money from the programs for juvenile offenders elsewhere in the state, leaving them without resources for detention and services. About 60 percent of the young people incarcerated are from New York City. Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has not taken a position.