Keeping Youth Close to Home Reduces Juvenile Arrests

One of the two girls accused of stabbing a classmate

New York City officials found that keeping youth convicted of crimes close to home reduced juvenile arrests, detention and out of home placements.

Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/AP

Keeping delinquent youth out of state juvenile detention centers and confined in smaller facilities closer to home reduces crime and helps young offenders turn their lives around, according to a new report by the Columbia University Justice Lab.  

But the New York City program on which the study is based, the first of its kind in the nation, may soon lose a chunk of its funding. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has proposed eliminating state funding for the program to help close New York’s budget deficit. 

In 2012, New York state and New York City created the “Close to Home” initiative, which moved delinquent youth from the five boroughs out of state prisons and into smaller facilities within city limits — and near their families. The idea behind the initiative: to keep youth connected to their families, schools and communities, reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for the youth.   

The report, which was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, found there was a 68 percent reduction of youth placed in facilities; 58 percent fewer youth arrests; and youth passed 91 percent of their academic classes. 

“The results were outstanding,” said Vincent Schiraldi, co-director of the Columbia University Justice Lab. “Treating kids better, treating them rehabilitatively and locking them up closer to home has not jeopardized public safety.” 

Recently New York has taken other steps to reduce recidivism among juvenile offenders. Under a law that takes effect in October, 16-year-olds charged with a crime will no longer automatically be prosecuted as adults. And starting in October 2019, 17-year-olds will no longer automatically be prosecuted as an adult, with that decision left to a judge in felony cases.

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