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Posts Tagged ‘youth delinquency’

“At midnight on Oct. 1, 2018, New York’s Raise the Age law went into effect, ending the state’s practice of automatically charging young people as adults at age 16. It also required New York City to move all 16- and 17-year-olds out of the infamously brutal Rikers Island jail complex and into the Horizon juvenile detention center in the Bronx.

Mayor Bill de Blasio heralded the move as a significant victory. “Beginning today,” he said, “no one under 18 will go to Rikers Island. Kids will be treated like kids instead of adults.”

Yet from the start, that mission was subverted. When fights broke out the very first week among detainees, injuring correction officers, their union was adamant that they could only restore order by using the same level of force they were authorized to use at Rikers. Surveillance video of brawling adolescents was released to the media, and correction officers told reporters they feared for their lives. On Oct. 10, the state granted a waiver allowing guards to use OC pepper spray on youth. (That plan has since been delayed while city and state officials negotiate its use, which is prohibited in juvenile facilities.)

Raise the Age was intended to shield children from the horrors of the adult criminal justice system. Yet, New York’s implementation of the plan seems to have merely transported the culture of violence from Rikers Island to Horizon.

There are reasons for that. The law mandated that young people be removed from Rikers, but authorized the same agency—the city’s Department of Correction—to help run the adolescent detention centers where they were moved, alongside program staff from the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). And because ACS could not hire enough “youth development specialists” by the Oct. 1 deadline, correction officers—whose horrific abuse of teenagers brought a federal lawsuit and consent decree to Rikers—are still guarding them in juvenile detention.

These correction officers and their union have painted the teens as dangerous, violent, and predatory criminals who can only be controlled by force. But the city itself seems to have bought into the logic that the adolescents from Rikers would bring with them a culture of violence too intense for ACS alone to handle.

To prepare for their arrival, the city relocated youth charged as juvenile delinquents to its Crossroads facility in Brooklyn, fearing the adolescents from Rikers would victimize them. It renovated Horizon to make it even more secure: reinforced cells, a larger control room, an arsenal of riot control gear, and plexiglass barriers in the cafeteria to keep youth from having contact with kitchen staff. New York City achieved getting the youth off Rikers, but in the process it has “Rikerized” Horizon.

These changes reflect a lack of faith in New York’s young people and the city’s ability to serve them. Teens are remarkably adept at living up to exactly what we expect of them. If we create an environment that anticipates violence, they will behave as expected. But research shows that if we treat them with love and respect, then young people—even the most traumatized, difficult, and challenging among them—will respond in kind.

I know that from my own experience running a mentoring program for court-involved youth in the South Bronx. But I’ve also seen a different approach to the same challenge playing out in the nation’s capital.

On the same day that New York’s Raise the Age law went into effect, the District of Columbia hit a deadline for removing youth charged as adults from the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility. Prior to the transfer, they had been subject to the same conditions as the youth on Rikers. Correction officers were authorized to use brute force, OC pepper spray, mechanical restraints, and 23-hour lockdown as tools of control.

At the New Beginnings facility run by the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), they were met by youth development specialists instead of corrections officers. These adolescents look no different than the youth coming from Rikers. They are also 16- and 17-year-olds and have been charged with serious and violent felony offenses. But since they arrived at New Beginnings, there have been no outbreaks of violence, no physical restraints, and no need for pepper spray. They sleep in their own housing unit, but are otherwise fully integrated with their peers during school, meals, and recreational time. I asked one of the staff members if the youth they call “Title 16” (after the statute that lets them be charged as adults) were different from their delinquency cases. “Nah,” he said, “they’re all just kids.””

– Rubén Austria, “MOVING TEENS OFF RIKERS ISLAND WAS A GOOD FIRST STEP. NOW COMES THE HARD PART.” The Appeal. November 1, 2018.

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“They Much Prefer To Be ‘Good Boys’,” Victoria Times, Sunday Magazine. October 20, 1951.

Young First Offenders Find Reclamation In Forest Camps

By GORDON FORBES

A human experiment in treatment of youthful first offenders has paid off a grattifying 100 per cent for the British Columbia Forestry Service.

On June 19 this year 12 lads were taken from Oakalla Prison to a forestry camp at Kettle Valley in the Nelson area. They were young men who ha come into conflict with the law through the over-exuberance of their youth.

The boys were given exactly the same treatment as hundreds of other youths in 10 other forestry department ‘youth training camps.’ They did the same work. Only difference was that they composed a complete camp of first offenders.

CLEAN RECORD
Lands and Forests Minister E. T. Kenney, who originated the plan, reports now that there was not ‘a single defection’ during the summer-long camp.

The boys are not treated as criminals. In fact, the very important thing about the camp is that they are separated from chronic criminals. If they had remained in prison they might have associated with hardened criminals and emerged the worse for the experience.

The camp was supervised by the district forest ranger and the boys came under the direct supervision of ‘custodian’ Robert Deildal, appointed by the penal institution.

Treated as potential citizens, with a great contribution to make to the state and society, the boys responded by co-operating to the fullest.

The forestry service anticipates their progress and co-operation to the point where they may eventually find permanent employment with the forest industry or administration. 

Officials are intending to expand this branch of their work materially. The success of this initial camp undoubtedly will spur this effort.

The boys are employed on construction of forest-protection roads and trails, slash disposal to reduce fire hazard and fight fires. Several of them have been used by forest rangers on compass work and surveying.

The boys are paid $3 a day, but only receive 50 cents of that. The rest is held back and credited to them.

FULL FREEDOM.
They are given as much freedom as boys in the regular camps. On occasion, they go to nearby dances or movies. The forestry department also has shipped in a projector and equipment to show films in a small settlement next to the camp.

The forest service feels it is getting a good dollar’s worth of service from every dollar expended. In addition, the youths are being given an opportunity to expend their energy, ingenuity and enthusiasm – on projects essential to the economy of the province.

Moreover, they are spending a summer amid beautiful and peaceful surroundings and learning a useful vocation that will be in continuous demand in this forested province.

Someone once said: ‘Man is at his best when pitted against Nature.’

In all the forest services youth camps this summer there was a total of nearly 150 boys. They all received $3 a day plus board and transportation to and from their homes.

The idea of a youth-use in conjunction with the forest resource is not a new conception by any means, but previous projects of this nature (exclusive of the first offenders’ camp idea which was first done this year) have unfortunately had their genesis in a depression period.

The present development is distinctive in that it came into being in 1949 when employment was available to all.

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“Prison Terms Are Meted Out,” Hamilton Spectator. October 8, 1938. Page 01.

Three Years For Costello, Two For MacAvella Imposed By Court

A
total of six years in prison terms was imposed on three men who
appeared before three men who appeared before Judge Ernest F. Lazier in
county criminal court Friday afternoon.

Frank Costello, aged 21,
one of a family of seven children, was sentenced to three years in
Kingston penitentiary when he pleaded guilty to four charges of theft of
automobiles.

Douglas MacAvella was sentenced to two years in
Kingston penitentiary when he was convicted of the theft if six auto
batteries from the Super-Lastic Sales corporation. He was acquitted of
the theft of an automobile.

Albert Peddie was given a one-year
term sentence for theft imposed in magistrate’s court, when Judge Lazler
convicted him of breaking into the garage of Robert McKee, Cannon street
and Sanford avenue, and the theft of electric drills and other tools
from it.

Appearing for Costello, Joseph D. Sullivan said he had a
‘heart to heart’ talk with him at the jail, but could only account for
his misdemeanours by his disposition toward recklessness.

‘I agree
with Mr. Sullivan that a reformatory term would have no effect in
redeeming him’ said George W. Ballard, K.C., crown attorney, handing
Costello’s record card to the judge.

Detective Albert Speakman
testified as to auto thefts in August and September when cars were stolen
belonging to James Ray, Grimsby Beach; Hertbert Ticker, Toronto; Harold
Jaggard, Cathcart street, and R. A. Bergdorf, York street.

Car Smashed
Mr. Tucker’s car was found near Dunnville badly smashed, Detective Speakman told the court.

Called
by the crown to testify in the MacAvella case, two young women and a
young man who were playing tennis on the courts of the First United
church, said they saw the accused carry batteries and place them in a
car on August 26. Judge Lazier found there was insufficient evidence to
justify his conviction for auto theft.

MacAvella denied theft of
the batteries, and added he had obligingly thrown back two tennis balls to
the young people who had testified against him.

In Peddie’s case,
Detective Speakman told of stopping the accused in his car, finding a
wrecking bar, hacksaw, tools and a large pair of snips. Robert McKee,
proprietor of a garage which was broken into, identified some of the
tools by his initials on them.

MacAvella and Peddie were without
counsel. Both had records. The convicted trio were led from the court
room, their hands manacled together.

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“Youth Leaves Jail To Work Out Fine,” The Globe and Mail. October 7, 1948. Page 02.

At the request of Major Alec MacMillan of the Salvation Army, 16-year-old Terry Smith of Sackville St. was released from Don Jail Tuesday night. Terry, convicted of ill-treating a kitten, was unable to pay a $50 fine, and was sentenced to 10 days in jail by Magistrate Thomas Elmore.

Major MacMillan said Terry was a ‘good boy,’ and would work to raise money to meet the $50 fine.
====
“Faces Sentence In Taxi Robbery,”

The Globe and Mail. October 7, 1948. Page 02.


David Cameron, 24, will be sentenced today by Magistrate Thomas Elmore after being convicted yesterday of robbing taxi driver John Kusian about two weeks ago. Kusian charged that Cameron had placed a butcher knife against his back and robbed him of $16.

Cameron faces sentence on four additional charges; Breaking into a service station on Fleet St., possession of an offensive weapon, attempted break-in of a second service station on Front St., and escape from Burwash Reformatory.

Cameron, 24 years old, escaped from reformatory on Sept. 9, and was said to have committed all the misdemeanors since the date. He pleaded guilty to all except the armed robbery charge.

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“Joy Riders Sentenced,” Toronto Globe. September 5, 1918. Page 07.

Stiff sentences were meted out in the Police Court yesterday morning to two young men who went for a joy ride in an automobile they found conveniently on the street. Joseph Murphy, who had a previous record, was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary, while Ernest Young was sent to the Ontario Reformatory for one year.

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“There was, in his opinion, in the present day, altogether too much of that maudlin sentimentality abroad in the world, which extended charity to vice at the expense of honesty and industry,…which sympathized with crime, and neglected the really honest man…He thought the best punishment was to tie them up and give them a good thrashing; he would whip them and send them to bed. It was really too absurd to talk of a moral school for such characters. He would be glad to see a house of correction in the rear of each prison, where they would be taken, tied up, and treated in the way he had pointed out.”

– Member of Parliament William Dunlop, Legislative Assembly, Debates of the Legislative Assembly of United Canada. 1843, p. 383.

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“Philanthropists did a pedagogic Jekyll and Hyde by hailing the family as the ideal place to raise children and at the same time creating the re-education home where children were to be re-educated outside the family, torn away from their parents and siblings.”

– Jeroen Dekker, The Will to Change the Child: Re-education Homes for Children at Risk in Nineteenth Century Western Europe. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. p.39

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