Bloomberg Makes a Proposal on Youth Prisons

In: New York Times
By RUSS BUETTNER
Dec 21st 2010

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Tuesday that he would ask New York State to turn over control of prisons and services for juvenile offenders to local governments, a move that he said would end the failed and costly practice of shipping troubled young people from New York City to upstate facilities far from their families.

Mr. Bloomberg also said that he planned to pursue changes to state law that would allow the rapid closing of large detention centers that are mostly empty but fully staffed.

He said that keeping children close to home and in the least restrictive setting that is appropriate would help reduce the “entirely unacceptable” recidivism rates: 81 percent of boys in the system return within three years of their release.

“This turnstile kind of in-and-out does not serve anybody,” the mayor said during a news conference at City Hall. “It keeps us less safe than we need to be. It is phenomenally costly, and it certainly doesn’t do anything to help people get their lives back on track.”

The state’s troubled juvenile justice system has been under siege of late.

Last year, a state task force reported that young people battling addiction or mental illness received little counseling and were often abused by violent offenders. In July, the state agreed to place four of its most dangerous youth prisons under federal oversight.

But Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal will most likely face resistance. For upstate lawmakers, the juvenile prisons represent well-paying jobs in struggling areas. The union for most of those workers, the New York State Public Employees Federation, successfully advocated for a change to state law in 2006 that required a year’s notice before facilities could be closed. A union spokeswoman said Tuesday that the union would oppose Mr. Bloomberg’s request for that law to be thrown out.

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Barry Massey, Sentenced to Life for Crime He Committed at 13, Loses Shot at Clemency Recommendation Because He Fell in Love

Are they crazy? A sound relationship is a very good thing for everyone! Wake up!

From Seattle Weekly

By Nina Shapiro, Thu., Dec. 16 2010

Barry Massey, one of the youngest people ever to be sentenced to life in prison, came back to the state Clemency and Pardons Board today looking for another shot at mercy. Governor Chris Gregorie turned down the board’s recommendation for clemency four years ago, and since then he has only drawn more supporters locally and nationally. This time, however, a deeply-torn board rejected Massey’s application.

After a hearing that stretched on for hours beyond its alloted time, with some 75 Massey supporters packing the room, the board this evening voted three to two to recommend against clemency. Massey was 13 when he participated in the 1987 robbery and murder of a Steilacoom store owner.

The board changed its mind in part because Massey fell in love. Around the time of his last clemency hearing, Massey embarked upon a relationship with a prison guard. This was no liason in a broom closet. The woman, who left the prison system after the forbidden love was discovered, later became his wife (see picture of Barry and Rhonda Massey above).

But board member Raul Almeida, among others, said he was disturbed by Massey’s “error in judgement”– a decision Almeida stressed Massey made as an adult.
He so noted because much of the support for Massey has focused on the fact that the man who has now served 24 years in prison was so young when he committed his crime.

“I can’t make sense of the notion that a board that was inclined to grant clemency four years ago is now inclined to deny it because he engaged in the most basic and positive endavor,” board member Amanda Lee countered.

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