Projects: Governor Paterson's Task Force on Juvenile Justice

In September 2008, New York Governor David Paterson created the Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice to establish a statewide process to improve the juvenile justice system. The task force was charged with creating a blueprint to strengthen alternatives to institutional placement for young offenders, improve residential care, and enhance reentry programming. It also addressed the disproportionate number of minority youth in the system. The task force was chaired by Jeremy Travis, president of New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Members included representatives from the Office of Children and Family Services, law enforcement, advocacy organizations, county and state agencies, academia, and the judiciary. Vera’s Center on Youth Justice provided technical assistance by gathering data and facilitating discussion on ways to implement systemic changes.

Task Force Subcommittees

The task force met five times to finalize reform recommendations. The recommendations were prepared by two subcommittees.

The Re-entry and Community-based Alternatives to Placement subcommittee, led by Al Siegel, deputy director of the Center for Court Innovation, was charged with three tasks:

  • Recommending strategies for identifying youth in Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) custody who pose no risk to public safety and would be best served in their communities
  • Increasing the availability of cost-effective, community-based alternatives to placement
  • Enhancing re-entry practices and policies

The Redefining Residential Care subcommittee was led by retired New York City Criminal Court Judge Michael Corriero, former executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, who is now executive director and founder of the New York Center for Juvenile Justice.

The subcommittees presented their preliminary findings and recommendations to the task force in September 2009. The task force’s final report, Charting a New Course: A Blueprint for Transforming Juvenile Justice in New York State, was released in December 2009.

Why We Need a Task Force

Historically, states used a treatment-focused model of juvenile corrections. States began to turn away from this model in the 1980s and 1990s in favor of a punitive model. Millions of dollars were invested in prison-like institutions called training schools, which are located far from young offenders’ families, homes, and communities and offer them little to no treatment. Research and practical experiences have shown that this punitive model of incarceration is likely to promote further delinquency among youth and to increase the probability that youth will return to the system after release. The task force's recommendations aim to move away from this costly, ineffective model and return to the original, treatment focus of juvenile justice.

For more information, contact center coordinator Anil Fermin

Charting a new course: a blueprint for transforming juvenile justice in New York State
More than 1,600 youth enter New York State’s institutional placement facilities each year, at an estimated annualized cost of $210,000 per child. Yet many youth leave more angry, fearful, or violent than when they entered. In September 2008, Governor David A. Paterson created the Task Force on...

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Former Director, Center on Youth Justice