Andrew M. Cuomo - State of the State comments on Juvenile Justice [2:20]
For those of us who are old enough to remember Willowbrook, it brings back very bad memories. When we think about our current juvenile justice facilities, I believe there are echoes of what we dealt with in Willowbrook. You have juvenile justice facilities today where we have young people who are incarcerated in these state programs who are receiving help assistance program treatment that has already been proven to be ineffective; Recidivism rate in the 90 percentile. The cost to the taxpayer is exorbitant. For one child over $200,000 per year. The reason we continue to keep these children in these programs that aren’t serving them but are bilking the taxpayers is that we don’t want to lose the state jobs that we would lose if we closed the facilities.
I understand, I understand, the importance of keeping jobs. I understand the importance of keeping jobs especially in upstate New York. I also understand that that does not justify the burden on the taxpayer and the violation of civil rights of the young person who is in a program that they don’t need where they’re not being treated hundreds of miles from their home just to save state jobs. An incarceration program is not an employment program. If people need jobs, let’s get people jobs. Don’t put other people in prison to give some people jobs. Don’t put other people in juvenile justice facilities to give some people jobs. That’s not what this state is all about and that has to end this session.