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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is youth detention?

A. A youth may be in detention due to a police arrest or a court order. Detention is the temporary custody and care of youth alleged to be or adjudicated as Juvenile Delinquents (JDs), or youth alleged or convicted as Juvenile Offenders (JOs). A judge will order that a youth be detained if there is a substantial probability that the youth will not appear in court for his/her next court date, or, if there is a serious risk that the youth may commit a crime before the next court date. JOs are in detention if they are unable to make bail or are ordered held without bail.

Q. What is a Secure Detention facility?

A. A secure juvenile detention facility has physically restricting construction, hardware and procedures. Juvenile facilities are mandated to maintain a specific staff-to- resident-ratio and to provide education, case management, recreations and other services. Alleged JDs over the age of 10 and JOs, can be housed in Secure Detention.

Q. What is a Non-Secure Detention (NSD) facility?

A. While locks on the doors and other hardware distinguish Secure Detention, NSD is characterized by the absence of such restrictions. Residents are staff-supervised and may leave the NSD group homes to attend community programs if escorted by staff. Alleged JDs between the ages of 7 and 15 may be housed in NSD facilities located throughout the City.

Q. What is a the difference between a Juvenile Delinquent (JD) and a Juvenile Offender (JO)?

A. Juvenile Delinquent or (JD)
- When a person who is under 16 years-old, but is at least 7 years-old, commits an act which would be a "crime" if he or she were an adult, and is then found to be in need of supervision, treatment or confinement, the person is called a "Juvenile Delinquent". The act committed is called a "delinquent act". All juvenile delinquency cases are heard in Family Court.

Juvenile Offender or (JO)
- Children who are 13, 14 and 15 years-old who commit more serious or violent acts may be prosecuted as adults. These cases are heard in Supreme Court, but may sometimes be transferred to the Family Court. JOs are subject to more serious penalties than JDs.

Q. What techniques are used for behavior management?

A. In its long-term facilities, DJJ uses behavior management program, ASPIRE, that aims to encourage residents to take responsibilitiy for their actions by providing leadership and support, reinforcing the importance of education, positive behavior, initiative, and participation while upholding fairness and equity. More specifically, ASPIRE is a system that recognizes a youngsters positive behavior (ie. points for doing homework) and rewards them with privileges that corresponds to their level. There are three levels, (level I, II, and III) and incrementally as one moves up in level, privileges increase. For instance, level III residents are entitled to special visits, more commissary items and computer access. All residents start in the program on level II so upon entry just as positive behavior can bring them up, negative behavior can reduce their level as there are always consequences to one's actions. A list of infractions with the points deductable for each as well as a list of the positive behaviors with their point value attached, will be prominently displayed in all areas of the facility, including the school floor, cafeteria, and each living area. This behavior management program is an improvement fromt the old system in that it actively encourages and rewards good behavior whereas the old system passively allowed residents to move up a level if they did not engage in behavioral infractions over a period of time. A database has also been created for this program, connected to REAL-TIME GOALS, which allows staff at a glance to determine the level of a resident in efforts to more efficiently supervise the residents in the care and custody of DJJ.

Q. How does case management serve youth in detention?

A. The Case Managers are the coodinators of services for the youth in detention, both in secure and non-secure. Youth are given medical and mental health screenings upon admission, and when special needs are presented, the Case Mangers are the key staff to coordinate service to ensure that those needs are met.

In addition, the Case Managers maintain contact with families, arrange special visits, and ensure that the youth stay in telephone contact with their families.

Q. What types of medical services do the youth receive in detention?

A. Residents in detention, whether secure or non-secure, receive a full array of medical services from DJJ's 24-hour a day health services unit. Upon entering the custody of DJJ, youth are given an immediate assessment to determine pressing medical conditions and needs, such as diabetes, asthma, and any medication a youth requires. Within 72 hours of admission, a comprehensive medical exam and history of each youth is completed, in order to insure updates on immunizations and attention to all medical needs. In addition, an on-site dentist provides dental services to residents. Each resident receives a mental health screening, which is completed upon admission. If needed, the resident is referred to a mental health Clinician or psychiatrist. Emergency health services and specialty clinics are provided through local area hospitals.

Q. What type of educational services do youth receive at DJJ?

A. Like other City young people, detained youth attend school for 5 ½ hours per school day through the New York City Department of Education Passages Academy. The program can be adjusted to accommodate youth who require special education, youth who require more challenging academics as well as those who are performing below grade level. Youth receive report cards and grades for their work and parents are invited to parent conferences in our schools. A special emphasis is placed on attendance, school performance, appropriate behavior in school, and gaining a appreciation for advancing.

Q. Are juveniles allowed to receive visitors?

A. Yes. Visiting is encouraged and occurs four times a week. Visitors must be pre-approved in order to be admitted into the facility. In general, parents, legal guardians, siblings over 18 and grandparents are permitted to visit. Aunts and uncles may visit once a month. No visitors under the age of 18 will be admitted unless special authorization is arranged with the resident's case manager prior to arrival at the facility. Case managers are available to meet with parents during visiting hours.

Related Links
NYC Family Court
NYS Office of Children and Family Services
Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention
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