Projects: New York State Detention Assistance Program

CYJ has been working with four New York Counties—Erie (Buffalo), Onondaga (Syracuse), Monroe (Rochester), and Albany County—to develop a reliable way for judges to decide whether arrested youth should be released, referred to community-based programs under supervision, or detained before trial. CYJ staff are also helping these counties develop a continuum of community-based supervision options for arrested youth. This reform is intended to reserve juvenile detention for youth who pose a risk of re-offending or failing to appear in court and keep youth who do not pose these risks connected to their communities, without compromising public safety.

Improving New York State’s Detention System

With funding from the Office of Children and Family Services, CYJ provides research and analytical support, facilitates stakeholder discussions, and imports lessons from national best practices to help participating counties expand services for arrested youth and decrease detention admissions. As a result of these practices, state data shows that

  • Erie County saw a 39 percent decrease in the total number of juvenile delinquent (JD) admissions to secure detention (from 614 in 2004 to 376 in 2008), and a 63 percent decrease in non-secure admissions during the same period;
  • Onondaga County saw a 65 percent decrease in the total number of secure JD admissions (from 397 in 2004 to 140 in 2008), and a 67 percent decrease in the number of non-secure admissions (from 318 to 109). A September 2007 article in the Syracuse Post-Standardreported that the FY 2008 budget for juvenile detention in Onondaga County was $1.7 million less than that of 2007, and it attributed this reduction to the efforts of county stakeholders and CYJ.

Why This Work is Important

The juvenile detention system in New York State carries severe fiscal and social costs. The annual cost of juvenile detention in the state is more than $100 million. Our research shows that youth who are detained before trial are more likely to be sentenced to an out-of-home placement than similar youth who are released before their trial. Additionally, detention populations in New York State and nationwide disproportionately comprise youth of color. Building on the advancements of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, CYJ's ongoing detention reform efforts in New York State are generating better outcomes for youth at lower costs.

For more information, contact center coordinator Insiyah Mohammad.

Featured Expert

Former Director, Center on Youth Justice