Teen Inmates Leave Rikers Island Ahead Of ‘Raise The Age’ Deadline
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Under New York State’s “Raise the Age” law, the City has until Monday to transfer all 16 and 17-year-olds off Rikers Island and into a juvenile detention facility.
The law, signed by Gov. Cuomo last year, removes adolescents from the adult criminal justice system and places them in facilities like Horizon Juvenile Center in the Bronx.
JoAnne Page – the president and CEO of the Fortune Society, a group that advocates for alternatives to incarceration – applauds the move but is concerned that 300 correction officers will be joining the teens instead of juvenile counselors.
“The dose of rehabilitation in the juvenile facility should be very high,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Mike Smeltz. “The people who should be working with those kids should be people who are trained in adolescent development.”
The city’s Administration for Children’s Services says it didn’t have enough time to hire and train the juvenile counselors needed, which is why the correction officers will be filling that role.
“If you move correction officers wholesale, you’re going to move the culture of Rikers Island with the young people, and that’s the antithesis of what we want to see,” Page said.
Still, inmate advocates are celebrating the move. Page says it’s better the teens be at a juvenile center than at Rikers, which she called a “gladiator school.”