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In April 2017, a landmark new law made New York the 49th state to acknowledge that 16- and 17-year-olds should not be automatically considered adults in the eyes of the criminal justice system. It was a hard-won victory for reformers and for many criminal justice practitioners, who had long decried the high human costs of setting the age of criminal responsibility so unreasonably low.


Urban matters | Justice

Life Lessons: The Difference Credible Messengers Make

By Elizabeth Walker

Mentoring programs rely on Credible Messengers to build trusting and transformative relationships with at-risk young people have proliferated, largely funded by City agencies like Department Of Probation and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The resulting mentor-mentee relationships have, in many cases, changed the trajectory of young lives. 

In 2016, a group of dedicated providers linked up with a progressive funder (the Pinkerton Foundation) and The New School to develop a college-accredited training program for Credible Messengers working in youth development. Called the Institute for Transformative Mentoring (ITM).


From Mean Streets to Meaningful Mentoring: Becoming a Credible Messenger

By Brandon Overby

As a young boy, I was a good kid. I got good grades and was always in the top classes in school. On the other hand, things were not so good at home. The only place I felt in charge was in the streets. The streets were not kind either. In 2008, I had just turned 15 years old and my best friend was murdered right in front of his door. Soon after, I began getting involved in the justice system. 


Article | Juvenile Justice, Criminal Justice Reform

Closing in on 'Close to Home': NYC to Open New Juvenile Justice Homes (2015)

After more than two years of delays and postponements, New York City officials say they will move forward this month with a long-promised reform of the biggest municipal juvenile justice system in the nation.


Report | Justice, Juvenile Justice 

Reforming Juvenile Justice: Is 'Close to Home' Working? (2015)

In late 2012, New York City launched one of the most ambitious juvenile justice reforms in the nation: Rather than sending kids who commit low-level offenses to Upstate lockups plagued by histories of abuse and failure, the city opened its own network of small, secure group homes within the five boroughs and nearby suburbs. In this ongoing investigation, we look at the success and challenges of the "Close to Home" reform: Is the program living up to its promise? Are New York City kids better off?

Read our latest stories for a look at Close to Home programs and the young people who spend time in them.

Event | Justice, Juvenile Justice 

Raise the Age: Changing Youth Justice in New York City (2014)

New York is one of just two states in the country that automatically treats 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system. In the midst of a national scandal over the treatment of adolescents at the Rikers Island Jail, we convene the experts for a discussion of the movement to Raise the Age: How will the influx of adolescents impact the city’s newly reformed juvenile justice programs? How can the system ensure that 16- and 17-year-olds get their best shot at success?

Hon. Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, administrative judge, New York County Family Court; Commissioner Ana Bermudez, NYC Department of Probationl Sonja Okun, founder + executive director, exalt; Soffiyah Elijah, executive director, Correctional Association of New York; Kevin Williams, participant, exalt; Charles Nunez, community advocate, Youth Represent
Moderated by: Abigail Kramer, associate editor, Center for New York City Affairs

Event | Criminal Justice Reform, Juvenile Justice 

Youth, Justice, Police and NYC's Neighborhoods (2014)

Courts now place most teen delinquents in city programs close to home, rather than upstate; and police have sharply reduced the use of stop and frisk, a tactic that overwhelmingly targeted young men of color. Policymakers in the new administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio seek to drive change even further. 

Gladys Carrion, commissioner, NYC Administration for Children's Services; Joanne Jaffe, bureau chief, New York Police Department; Chino Hardin, field trainer/organizer, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions; Gabrielle Prisco, director, Juvenile Justice Project, Correctional Association of New York; Chris Watler, project director, Harlem Community Justice Center at Center for Court Innovation; Andrew White, director, Center for New York City Affairs, The New School

Report | Justice, Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare 

Brushes With The Law:
Young New Yorkers and the Criminal Justice System (2013)

By Andrew White, Kendra Hurley, and Abigail Kramer
In the final year under the administration of Mayor Bloomberg, who has made juvenile justice one of the signature issues of his time in office, we consider the progress of reforms and the places where they’ve been stymied. And we look at the impact on communities that have long been destabilized by cycles of crime, police scrutiny, arrest and incarceration. 


Event | Justice, Juvenile Justice 

Combating Youth Violence (2012)

Youth violence has declined sharply over two decades--more than 70 percent in New York State, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Yet in some neighborhoods there are now increasing reports of gang activity and violence. 

David Kennedy, author of Don't Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America; director of the John Jay Center for Crime Prevention and Control. Reean Charles, Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (Y.O.S.O.S.). Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member, District 8, New York City Council. Iesha Sekou, Executive Director, Street Corner Resources. 
Moderated by: Errol Louis, Host, NY1's Inside City Hall

Event | Justice, Juvenile Justice 

Marijuana, Law Enforcement and Young New Yorkers (2011) 

The debate on the classification of marijuana possession as a crime is heating up nationwide, even as the number of arrests in New York has risen. Many substance abuse professionals, public officials, and community anti-crime activists support a drug enforcement strategy that includes "broken windows" policing and drug treatment. Others question whether this is worth the cost. Is it time for change, or not?

Dan Donovan, Staten Island District Attorney; Oma S. Holloway, director of career services, The Door - A Center of Alternatives; Noah Kass, LMSW and clinical director, Realization Center, Inc; Jenay Nurse, staff attorney, Bronx Defenders;
Gabriel Sayegh, New York State director, Drug Policy Alliance.
Moderated by Cindy Rodriguez, WNYC

Event | Justice, Juvenile Justice 

New York's New Vision for Juvenile Justice Reform (2010)

Major changes are afoot in juvenile justice. Governor Paterson recently proposed long-awaited reforms for upstate facilities where young teens are incarcerated. But he also proposed large cuts to alternative-to-detention and diversion programs. Meanwhile, the Bloomberg administration has merged the citys juvenile justice agency with childrens services, potentially accelerating expansion of community- and family-centered services for juvenile delinquents and other young people. What are the emerging visions? How might city, state and nonprofit agencies work together to support effective reform for children and families? A conversation about working toward meaningful change, at a time of fiscal crisis.

Commissioner Gladys Carrion, NYS Office of Children and Family Services; Commissioner John Mattingly, New York City Administration for Childrens Services; Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi, New York City Department of Probation; Melkeda Cardona, Youth Organizer, Safe Passages for Youth, The Correctional Association of NY; Jeremy Kohomban, President and CEO, Childrens Village; Jeremy Travis, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Report & Event | Justice, Juvenile Justice 

A Need for Correction: Reforming New York's Juvenile Justice System (2009)

 The federal Department of Justice has threatened to take over New Yorks juvenile justice system because of violence done by its staff and its inability to provide adequate psychiatric care for mentally ill children. Will the state and city improve mental health services and conditions for juvenile delinquents? The Center for New York City Affairs releases its latest Child Welfare Watch report, which examines alternatives to incarceration that supervise children in their homes and communities; outlines possible reforms in detention and incarceration; and explores whether federal action can open the door to more sweeping change. Edited by Andrew White, Clara Hemphill and Kendra Hurley



Larry Busching, Chief, Family Court Division, New York City Law Department; John Ruiz, OCFS Youth Counselor and Executive Board Member of Public Employees Federation; Sylvia Rowlands, Director, Blue Sky Program, New York Foundling; William Scarborough, Member, New York State Assembly; Tamara Steckler, Attorney-in-charge, Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Division; Andrew White, Director, Center for New York City Affairs.