Staffers say conditions at the youth detention centers declined since state lawmakers passed the “Raise the Age” law in 2017. The law banned the practice of sending 16- and 17-year-olds to adult jails like Rikers. Teenagers awaiting sentencing — sometimes for years while they’re held in the centers into their early 20s — are detained alongside much younger kids.
… Some experts believe sending teenagers back to adult jails isn’t a solution to the chaos at the juvenile centers. Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, thinks the city and ACS need to rethink forced confinement for young people charged with major crimes.
“To me, you don’t have to prove that things are working well to support ‘Raise the Age,’” said Butts, who’s worked on juvenile incarceration issues since 1980. “All you have to do is look at the evidence that the other option of putting teenagers and young kids in with adults does not help public safety. It just traumatizes and probably creates more lifelong criminals.”
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