Making Positive Changes in the Lives of Adolescents
Throughout childhood and adolescence, youth begin to mature and develop into young adults. New York State and New York City provide for the management of youth and young adults during these critical years in several notable ways:
- The New York State Family Court Act, Section 301.2, defines a "Juvenile Delinquent" as a "Person over seven and less than sixteen years of age." As such, all persons sixteen years of age and older in the New York State criminal justice system are charged as adults and remanded to the NYC Department of Correction and not the NYC Department of Juvenile Justice.
- Pursuant to the NYC Department of Education Chancellor Regulation A-210, “Each minor from six to seventeen years of age in New York City is required to attend school on a full-time basis.”
- The NYC Board of Correction (BOC) Minimum Standards, Section 1-02, provides that all inmates ages 16-18 be held separate and apart from inmates who are over the age of 18. The Department refers to these inmates, ages 16-18, as “Adolescents.”
- Effective August 20, 2012, there will be a new evening curfew for adolescents housed at RNDC. The evening lock-in time will be 10:00 p.m., changed from 11:00 p.m. Adolescents will not have access to the phones during these hours. These changes will enhance the overall management and the safety and security of the facility.
- Effective September 15, 2012, all adolescents at RNDC will be required to wear institutional uniforms.
- Effective October 15, RNDC is introducing a Temporary Cell Restriction Option for adolescent inmates only.
An Overview of the Confined Adolescent Population
Adolescents made up about 7 percent of the total DOC average daily population in FY 2012, with 746 males and 42 females. Although they represent a small segment of the total population, they are the largest cohort of inmates detained for more serious charges. The majority of adolescents in DOC custody are held on charges of Robbery, Homicide, Weapons Possession and Assault. On an average day in FY 2012, 75 percent of adolescent inmates, 16-18 years of age, were charged with violent felonies compared to 56 percent of inmates 19-24 years of age, and 30 percent of inmates 25 years of age and older who were accused of comparable offenses.
Although the adolescent population is charged with committing more violent crimes than inmates in the other age groups, they are more likely to be released from jail back to the community and less likely to be sentenced to the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) with 83 percent of all adolescent inmates returned to the community and fewer than eleven percent remanded to DOCS.
The DOC has taken a number of steps to transform the time that adolescents spend in its custody into an opportunity for growth and development. The DOC is resolved to ensure their safety throughout their detention and support their acquisition of basic academic and jobs training skills, improve decision-making and problem-solving, and maintain sobriety in jail, and upon their release.
Partnering with the NYC Department of Education
Island Academy Graduation at the Robert
N. Davoren Center
Female adolescents at Island Academy,
Rose M. Singer Center
|Consistent with the NYC Department of Education Chancellor Regulation A-210, all inmates under 18 years of age who have not graduated from high school or earned a GED must attend school. The Island Academy, operated by the NYC DOE, provides a free and appropriate public education to adolescents, ages 16-18, at the Robert N. Davoren Center (pre-trial males), Rose M. Singer Center (all females), and Eric M. Taylor Center (city-sentenced males). Although greater than 50 percent of the DOC student body read below grade 6 at intake, they make considerable progress once enrolled. During the 2008-2009 academic year, DOC students achieved a GED pass rate of 75 percent, considerably higher than the statewide average of 55 percent.
Redefining the Jail Experience for Adolescents
An IID Officer facilitates a meeting,
Robert N. Davoren Center
|DOC reinstated and appreciably expanded the Institute for Inner Development (IID) program over the past several years. IID provides programming that promotes attitudinal and behavioral change, builds self-esteem, and delivers basic life skills training. IID uses the time spent detained as an opportunity to equip adolescents with essential life skills. Specially trained Correction Officers staff the program, serve as mentors, and facilitate group sessions. IID has been implemented in seven housing areas in the Robert N. Davoren Center where most adolescents are housed, and can accommodate 316 male adolescents at any given time. IID is being expanded to include the Eric M. Taylor Center where 100 city-sentenced male adolescents can be served. Prior to the program’s reinstatement in July 2007, adolescents averaged 27 incidents of violence per month. In 2009, enrollment increased six-fold and the total incidents of violence decreased to an average of seven per month, nearly a 75 percent reduction.
Partnering with Families
Family conferences with DOC and
DOE staff on Rikers Island
|DOC seeks to maintain family ties and build stronger family relationships. In 2009 DOC enhanced visitation, involving parents in an orientation program for parents of adolescent inmates about security provisions and program opportunities. DOC also schedules informational events at which community-based service providers are available to talk with family members about services that are available to them and their children.
Sports, Fine Arts and Recreation
Adolescents at the Robert N. Davoren
Center participate in an organized
Adolescents at the Rose M. Singer
Center attend a yoga class
|DOC recognizes that teenagers need to exercise and benefit from recreational opportunities and other leisure time activities. DOC expanded inmates’ access to gym and sports starting last summer. Now Correction Officers coordinate basketball tournaments and other structured sports events, and added performances and fine arts workshops and activities
Partnering with City Agencies and Community-Based Organizations
DOC partners with a number of city agencies and community-based organizations to provide adolescents and their families with essential services, including:
- NYC Mayor's Center for Economic Opportunity
- NYC Department of Education
- NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
- NYC Department of Youth and Community Development
- NYC Department of Probation
- NYC Department of Juvenile Justice
- NYC Administration for Children's Services
- Phoenix House
- Horticulture Society Of New York
- Friends of Island Academy
- Youth Represent
- US Prison Smart
- NYU Malcolm X Debate Project
- Fordham Law School
- Carnegie Hall Concert Series
- Voice Unbroken
- Getting Out and Staying Out