Provide Services to Keep Youth Out of Jail
March 17, 2011
Velmanette Montgomery, NYS Senator, 18th District
The Republican controlled Senate and the Assembly have each submitted their budget bills, which accept and reject portions of the Governor’s recommended State spending plan for FY 2011-12.
While I was pleased by many of the funding restorations contained in the Senate’s budget resolution, I voted against the proposal because it hurts our children our young people who are on the road to ruin because we, as a State, are not acting responsibly to reform New York’s juvenile justice system.
New York’s so called juvenile justice system fails youth, communities, and state and local governments. It could not be clearer that New York’s juvenile justice system is broken and in dire need of comprehensive reform. Unfortunately, the plans advanced by the majorities in the Assembly and Senate do not provide the amount of funding or reforms needed to meaningfully divert youth from unnecessary juvenile justice placements.
To the detriment of the State’s at risk youth, the Senate Republican Majority and the Assembly rejected Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal to right size the juvenile justice system, which included a dedicated funding stream of $31.4 million to support community based alternative to detention and residential placement programs. This funding stream proposes a 62 percent reimbursement for the cost of operating the programs. The Governor’s plan also caps detention services at $15 million.
For the past several years, I have been working with you to design a system whereby non violent court involved youth could be “sentenced” to rehabilitative programs in their community where they could be close to their families and other familiar supportive services. Together, you and I and other advocates from across New York proposed a system that offers financial incentives to localities to keep young people out of juvenile facilities.
Governor Cuomo recognized the value of our efforts to keep troubled youth out of the pipeline to prison and included many of our reforms in his Executive Budget. It is disheartening that Republican controlled Senate and the Assembly did not support our reform agenda.
The Senate Majority and the Assembly are instead proposing:
$72 million for detention services. Of this amount, up to $31 million may be available to counties to fund only 50 percent of community based alternative to detention and residential placement programs.
The Senate Majority provides that funds “may be available” to localities for “up to” $31.4 million for community based alternative to detention or alternative to residential placement programs. Reimbursement to localities for such services would be 50% of the cost not 62%. Additionally, under the Senate Republican plan, there would not be a specific appropriation for such community based programs. For community based alternative programs to receive funding, a locality would need to choose to fund a program(s) instead of detention, which is a mandated service. Moreover, the Senate Republicans reject the Executive’s proposal to provide state reimbursement for the detention of only high risk youth, providing no fiscal incentive to localities to stop unnecessary youth detention.
$76 million for detention services and $8.4 million for community based alternative to detention and residential placement programs (the same amount as FY 2010-11)
The Assembly continues funding for community based programs at the current year’s level. Additional funding and incentives are needed to enable localities to establish more community based programs that will divert youth from costly and ineffective detention and residential placement.
The next step in finalizing a 2011-12 State spending plan is the conferencing of Senate and Assembly committees that will negotiate the final 2011-12 Budget. The Committees begin meeting this week to craft a budget that will put New York on the road to fiscal recovery.
Between now and the time a new State Budget is enacted, I urge you to reach out to key lawmakers and demand that they adopt Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal to right size the juvenile justice system. Our young people are depending on us.