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Task Force Releases Plan for Transforming New York State's Juvenile Justice System

Recommendations to Benefit Youth and Families and Enhance Public Safety

New York, NY, December 14, 2009—Governor David A. Paterson’s Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice today released its final report, Charting a New Course: A Blueprint for Transforming Juvenile Justice in New York State. The report calls on state officials to reinvest in community-based, rehabilitative, treatment-focused services that can improve outcomes for youth and their families while also ensuring greater public safety.

“The Task Force’s recommendations will bring New York State in line with best practices that can help troubled youth and their families, protect the public, and optimize scarce state resources,” said Task Force Chair Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College.

The Task Force included state and local officials, representatives from unions, advocacy groups, and community-based organizations, as well as academic experts from across the United States. It was asked to move the State toward a system that promotes public safety, holds youth accountable for their actions, and produces positive outcomes for young people and their families.

Based upon its findings, the Task Force provides 20 recommendations that offer a framework for an effective juvenile justice system.

Specific recommendations include:

  • Reserving institutional placement for youth who pose a significant risk to public safety, and ensuring that no youth is placed in a facility because of social service needs.
  • Reducing the disproportionate representation of youth of color in institutional placement.
  • Ensure that New York State operates a unified and cohesive system of care that keep all youth in its custody safe whether in private or state run facilities.
  • Downsizing or closing underutilized facilities, and reinvesting those savings in communities.
  • Making facilities more conducive to positive youth development and rehabilitation.
  • Limiting the amount of time youth spend in institutional facilities.
  • Establishing an independent, external oversight body to monitor and report on juvenile justice policies and practices.

In developing this report, Task Force members reviewed research literature, analyzed quantitative and qualitative data, and visited programs, facilities, and jurisdictions across the state. The Task Force was staffed by the Vera Institute of Justice, an independent nonprofit organization with nearly 50 years of expertise in the criminal and juvenile justice fields. Vera’s Center on Youth Justice supplemented the Task Force’s efforts with data analysis, insight into national best practices, and ongoing logistical support.

“The members of the Task Force are grateful for the opportunity to work together on this vital and urgent issue,” says Travis. “It is our hope that this report will be an important tool for driving New York State’s juvenile justice reform efforts, and we look forward to continuing our work with Governor Paterson as the state begins the process of implementing our recommendations.”

To read a summary of the task force’s report, or to access the complete report, visit www.vera.org/paterson-task-force-juvenile-justice-report.