Mayor Announces Initiative to Reduce Number of Teens in Jail

We’re investing in programs that have the potential to put even more young people on better paths toward brighter future
— Mayor de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged an annual $3 million to fund multiple programs aimed at reducing the number of 16- and 17-year-olds in city custody by another 20 percent over the next five years. This initiative comes on the heels of news that the number of Staten Island teens being admitted into city jails has been declining. 

The Department is fully committed to moving adolescents off Rikers Island and into facilities with continued access to meaningful, age-appropriate programming.
— DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann

The city’s recurring investment will support an assortment of initiatives, including family therapy and intensive mentoring programs judges can order to teens instead of detainment, expansion of the number of in-court staff to help move teens’ cases through the system quicker, and expansion of a program that pairs teenage detainees with social workers who can help with bail payment or advocate for releasing the teens to intensive community-based programming.

"There are roughly half as many 16- and 17-year-olds in City custody than in 2013, and we're investing in programs that have the potential to put even more young people on better paths toward brighter futures," the mayor said in a prepared statement.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) said there are a total of 108 teens from all of New York City currently at Rikers Island. The city says there has been a 32 percent decrease in citywide admissions to juvenile detention.

“The Department is fully committed to moving adolescents off Rikers Island and into facilities with continued access to meaningful, age-appropriate programming that we have worked hard within our agency and with provider partners to develop," DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann, said in a prepared statement.

Nearly a year ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Raise the Age legislation to decrease the number of teenagers in the court system. As a result, the law began moving most teenage defendants to Family Court with judges that have access to social services and special training. The legislation also requires the city to remove teenage detainees off of Rikers island by October 2018 and place them in juvenile facilities.