Local counties participate in academy targeting youth justice system inequity

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- A partnership between the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Youth Justice Institute at UAlbany, and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy is creating a training academy that addresses racial and ethnic inequity in New York’s youth justice system.

The probation departments of Albany and Schenectady Counties will join Monroe, Onondaga, and Westchester Counties participating in the program. The goal is to improve the future of non-white youth who find themselves in trouble with the law, through grant-funded training.

County teams, lead by its probation departments, will consist of between eight to 10 members. Those members will include community/civic organizations, law enforcement, the defense community, courts, service providers, and youth and/or family members that have encountered the justice system.

“We look forward to working with county probation departments to develop and implement plans to create lasting change that will improve the lives of youth, who, for too long, have faced an unequal system,” said Youth Justice Institute Executive Director, Dr. Giza Lopes.

“I applaud the youth justice practitioners from Albany, Monroe, Onondaga, Schenectady, and Westchester counties for their leadership and willingness to engage in this important work to improve the system and increase the chances that justice-involved youth will receive the help and support they need to succeed in life,” said DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner, Michael Green.

Black youth in the state are more likely to find themselves in juvenile court, detention, or juvenile correctional facilities, according to DCJS. They represent 16% of the youth population but they also represent:

  • 49% of cases referred to juvenile court
  • 60% of secure detentions
  • 48% of cases resulting in delinquent findings
  • 52% of cases resulting in probation
  • 57% of cases resulting in placement in secure juvenile correctional facilities

“The state’s investments to support local-level racial justice work that prioritizes community-centered solutions is a formula that we expect to achieve significant, positive, and measurable results for youth, families, and communities of color,” said Policy Director for Equity and Justice at the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, Tiana Davis.

The goal is to develop and implement concrete policy, practices, and programs to reduce the number of Black youth whose cases end up in Family Court. To that end, plans will aim to increase the number of Black youth offered adjustment services, who participate in adjustment services and successfully complete adjustment services. The Academy will help with the development of those local action plans, and each county will receive $50,000 to assist with implementation.

DCJS

The New York State Policy Equity Academy is funded in part from a grant through the federal Delinquency Prevention Program and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The DCJS Office of Youth Justice received $421,000 in funding for the academy.

“The partners developed a training and curriculum specific to New York State with the goal of building and sustaining effective and results-driven work in communities statewide, rather than relying on out-of-state training on the topic, as was done in the past,” DCJS said Wednesday.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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