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For immediate release: July 31, 2013
Contact: Jennifer Givner
Phone: 518-402-3130


Report: Leadership, alternatives and shifting attitudes contribute to decrease in juveniles in residential facilities

State’s ratio of youth incarceration rate is 60 percent lower than U.S. average

RENSSELAER, NY, July 31, 2013 -- Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Commissioner Gladys Carrión today announced the release of a report praising New York as one of nine states leading the nation in reducing youth incarceration rates. New York, deemed a “comeback state” in a study by the National Juvenile Justice Network and Texas Public Policy Foundation, saw a 43-percent decrease in the number of youth confined in all state facilities over a ten-year period, the third-highest in the country behind only Connecticut and Mississippi.

The report attributes the state’s turnaround to leadership in adopting new attitudes toward, and policies regarding, troubled youth. New York was singled out for creating community alternatives, restricting the use of detention, and closing facilities and downsizing, among other changes. Between 2001, a year when youth confinement peaked nationwide, and 2010, New York State’s rate at which youth were incarcerated decreased at a rate that exceeded the national average.

The report also points out that legislative changes passed under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2011 encouraged counties to use tools aimed at reducing the use of secure detention facilities. Building on that, the Governor’s 2012 Close to Home initiative began moving New York City youth in non-secure and limited secure placements from upstate facilities to those closer to their families and communities to promote personal support systems.

“This report shows what we have known all along: that New York State is a leader in juvenile justice reform,” said OCFS Commissioner Gladys Carrión. “The guiding principles that helped shape this transformation are built on the solid evidence that placing youth in adult-like prisons does not ‘scare them straight.’ A rehabilitative and therapeutic model gives them the tools they need to make positive, lasting changes in their behavior. We are proud to be a part of a change so greatly needed across the nation, and we strongly support Governor Cuomo’s leadership in implementing reforms for New York State.”

“Over the years, New York has been a steady adopter of incarceration-reducing policies, with statute-based funding for alternatives to incarceration for youth in the adult system and a robust continuum of alternatives for youth, particularly in New York City,” the report stated. “Moreover, in the past five years, New York has accelerated this deincarceration trend by closing secure juvenile facilities that were largely underutilized.”

The study gathered new data from the U.S. Department of Justice on the number of offenders in residential placement nationwide. Just 13 years ago, nearly 109,000 youth were in detention centers throughout the U.S. But by late 2010, the number of confined juveniles dropped by 39-percent, thanks in part to changes in state policies that created alternatives to incarceration and decreased the number of youth arrests for petty crimes. At its current rate, New York State’s ratio of youth incarcerated to the total number of youth is 60-percent lower than the U.S. average.

The Office of Children and Family Services serves New York by promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of children, families and communities. Within OCFS, the Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth (DJJOY) is operates 14 residential facilities throughout the state. For more information, visit, “like” the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Facebook page, or follow @NYSOCFS on Twitter.