On Friday, February 19, 2021, the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare convened an oversight hearing on the juvenile justice system during COVID-19.
Youth detention even under pre-pandemic conditions all but ensures serious health and safety risks to young people, who experience administrative and physical violence and immediate and long-term health impacts of confinement.
For the past forty-six weeks GGE has been tracking the changing population of youth incarcerated in ACS’ Secure Detention Facilities (Crossroads and Horizon):
According to our tracking, the population of young people in detention has jumped from 60s in April 2020 to over 110 in February 2021 – a jump of 70%.
This pandemic has made it much more urgent to invest in and respond to public health crises with public health responses, rather than relying on criminalizing agencies to facilitate best practices.
Now that New York is facing sustained fiscal downturns because of the pandemic, the Council has another reason to reduce confinement of young people and provide better support for those who remain in their communities: the tremendous cost of youth incarceration. The most recent Mayor’s Management Report (MMR) specifies the average daily cost per youth per day in detention at $2,064 – up from $1,651 in the prior fiscal year reported (amounting to a 25% growth). At that price, we estimate that the total cost of incarcerating girls in secure detention during the pandemic has reached nearly two million dollars. This immense cost represents an average daily population of two girls.
Read our testimony in full here.