Governor's Task Force on Juvenile Justice Calls For Major Reform
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2009

Governor David A. Paterson’s Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice has released its plan for reforming practices and policies within New York State’s juvenile justice system. The report seeks to build upon and accelerate initial reform efforts by the Office of Children and Family Services—the state agency responsible for youth in state custody—and various localities across the state.

Governor David Paterson formed the Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice in September 2008 and Tamara A. Steckler, the Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice, was selected to serve on the Task Force. Composed of national, state, and county experts from government, law enforcement, community-based organizations, academia, and labor, the Task Force was asked to move the state toward a system that promotes public safety and produces positive outcomes for young people and their families. In particular, the Governor asked the Task Force to focus its efforts on one particular stage of the system: the point after a young person is adjudicated in Family Court. The report offers 20 recommendations whose overarching goals are to safely reduce the use of institutional placement (youth prisons) and reinvest savings in community-based services; establish consistent policies and oversight among private and state-operated placement facilities; and address pervasive racial imbalances that have led to the disproportionate confinement of children of color in the placement system.

The report coincides with the individual and systemic advocacy The Legal Aid Society has been undertaking and continues to undertake to address the serious and dangerous situations our clients face when sentenced to juvenile facilities. As has been reported in the media, the Society has advised the State that it has no choice but to commence litigation to address the urgent need to protect children from harm in these facilities. The full report can be found on http://www.vera.org/paterson-task-forc-juvenile-justice-report.

Read the full article on the New York Times website.