Remove Youths From Rikers

Posted: September 19th, 2014 | by Yuval Sheer

On September 16, 2014, a letter to the editor, written by Judge Corriero, was published in the New York Times. We would like to share this letter with you:

Re “City Hires a Consulting Firm to Develop a Reform Plan for Rikers Island” (news article, Sept. 9):

While the decision by the New York City Correction Department to hire McKinsey & Company to examine policies on Rikers Island is welcome, the suggestion that the consulting firm will be focusing on “adolescent inmates and the jails that hold them” raises a significant concern that the department is examining ways to improve conditions for minors on Rikers Island instead of removing them from that facility.

Keeping minors on Rikers Island would be a missed opportunity to address the serious concerns raised by an Aug. 4 report by the Justice Department that found that there is “a pattern and practice of conduct at Rikers that violates the constitutional rights of adolescent inmates.”

The report specifically recommended that youths be removed from Rikers, saying “the department should develop a plan to house adolescents at a D.O.C. jail not located on Rikers Island.”

The removal of youths from Rikers Island is crucial, no matter what improvements take place. Rikers at its core is an adult facility not intended to address the developmental differences of youths. While an outdated New York law that sets the age of criminal responsibility at 16 allows the city to hold minors at Rikers Island, it is clear that they do not belong there.

New York, Sept. 10, 2014
The writer, executive director of the New York Center for Juvenile Justice, is a former judge in the criminal courts of New York State.


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