New York City Correction Commissioner Joe Ponte supports a recommendation from the U.S. Attorney’s office to move all adolescents off the city’s Rikers Island jail complex, reports the Wall Street Journal. Ponte said the department was actively looking at alternative sites but warned there's “no quick easy solution.”
Ponte’s department houses 489 inmates 16 and 17 years old on Rikers. A two-year investigation headed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara reported in August that correction officers there have routinely violated the constitutional rights of adolescent inmates by responding to minor violations with excessive force. The report advised housing all adolescents in a jail facility somewhere off the island. New York is one of only two states where 16 and 17 year-olds are automatically tried as adults in the criminal justice system, even for misdemeanors.