A Close New Look at ‘Close to Home’

On May 20th, 2015, The Center for New York City Affairs launched a new, ongoing, investigative project to assess the Close to Home reforms. The investigation reveals that Close to Home programs have righted themselves after a rocky start, marred by high incidence of kids going AWOL from grouphomes and high staff turnover. Incidents of residents going AWOL shrank by more than 50% in Close to Home’s second full year of operation. The rate of kids being returned to Upstate facilities also decreased, even as the number of offenders in the program steadily grew. The website includes postings related to the backstories of Close to Home residents, a closer look at the day to day operations of Close to Home residences, and successes and shortcomings in re-engaging Close to Home kids and their families.

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Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline

The CSG Justice Center published their most recent report, The School Discipline Consensus Report with strategies from the field on how to keep students engaged in school and away from the juvenile justice system. This comprehensive report presents nearly two dozen policy statements to guide multidisciplinary approaches to meet the needs of both youth and educators while addressing student misbehavior, and 60 recommendations that explain how to implement these policies. They reflect a consensus of stakeholders  with more than 100 advisors representing school administrators, teachers, behavioral health professionals, police, court leaders, probation officials, juvenile correctional administrators, parents, and youth from across the country. Approximately 600 additional practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and agents of change were consulted over the three-year project that culminated in this report. To view the report, click here. You may also view it in the News and Reports section of this blog.

Schneiderman Adressing the School-to-Prison Pipeline in NY

This month, US Senator Schneiderman, wrote in the New York Nonprofit Media, “With this compelling evidence—and with a new generation of activists demanding change—it is time to build on this work, expand our coalition and pursue a whole new level of criminal justice reform. We should start by addressing the root causes that drive some of our young people to commit crime.” In the article, he refers to the importance of Raise the Age as being aligned with ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

Obama: Smart on Juvenile Justice

The Obama administration is seeking in its fiscal year 2016 juvenile justice budget a $30 million initiative known as “Smart on Juvenile Justice.” The initiative is designed to help states decrease youth incarceration while increasing community-based alternatives to locking kids up and reducing racial and ethnic disparities. Congress has yet to approve the requested funding, though the Obama administration has funded a pilot of the program, rolled out last year in Georgia, Hawaii and Kentucky, working with private foundations and the Washington-based nonprofitPew Charitable Trust’s Public Safety Performance Project. Read more, here.

Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice

In the book published by the Brennan Center for Justice, Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice Reform, the country’s most prominent public figures and experts join together to propose ideas for change. In these original essays, many authors speak for the first time on the issue. The vast majority agree that reducing our incarcerated population is a priority. An article in the Bloomberg Politics assesses the 2016 hopefuls messages regarding criminal justice reform. To read more about this new book and the views of the leaders featured in it, click here.

Major Momentum for Criminal Justice Reform Post-Baltimore

While the media reflects an unusual bipartisan consensus in Washington on the need to overhaul the justice system, their ideas on how exactly to reform the system diverge. There are two sets of ideas about how to move ahead. One set of reform proposals puts more weight on changing federal sentencing laws at the front end so less people are incarcerated in the first place. The other idea is to change the law to make it easier for low-risk inmates to earn credits to leave prison months or years early. They also want to create a federal commission to study all the other problems, such as rebuilding confidence in police. To learn more, see the article or listen to the podcast from NPR’s All Things Considered hereScreen shot 2015-05-25 at 12.38.48 PM

Gaining Support in NY House of Representatives for Raise the Age

“15 House members — most of whom hail from downstate — endorsed Cuomo’s plan to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18. The proposal is a key piece of Cuomo’s juvenile justice reform agenda, which he is hoping to pass before the end of this year’s legislative session. One of the House members who joined the Raise the Age campaign is U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, a former Nassau County district attorney. Two upstate law enforcement officers, Albany Police Chief Steve Krokoff and Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley, have also appeared in a video supporting the effort.” This upcoming month, June 2015, is when the decision will be made regarding Raise the Age — the first phase calls for increasing the age of criminal responsibility to 17 years old on Jan. 1, 2017. The age would be raised to 18 years old on Jan. 1, 2018. To see more, view here.

Mass Incarceration Punishes Children of the Incarcerated

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The cycle of incarceration tears families apart and make the children of the incarcerated parent more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system themselves.More than 2.7 million children under 18 have a parent behind bars, according to a 2010 report from The Pew Charitable Trusts, a research and public policy nonprofit organization. That means that 1 in 28 children in the U.S. have an incarcerated parent. In contrast, 25 years ago, the number was 1 in 125, according to the report. To read more about a CUNY Graduate School of Journalism student’s prison photography program, click here. The 2010 Pew Report on incarceration’s effect on Economic Mobility can be viewed in this blog’s News and Reports section.