New York City has completely eliminated the prison population of kids younger than 16, thanks to Close to Home, a program that allows juveniles to stay in small group homes closer to their communities.
But although many city officials and advocates consider Close to Home a success, it’s threatened by major potential budget cuts in Albany, New York.
George Kenefati, a sophomore at Macaulay Honors College in Manhattan, recently posted a social event on Facebook for his fellow students. It was meant to raise awareness of the challenges faced by students in the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program. Kenefati, 19, is originally from Venezuela. His family migrated when he was 6.
It was a school night and well past Joshua Vega’s bedtime when most of the world learned that Donald Trump had won the 2016 election and would become the 45th president of the United States. The then-third grader said he didn’t get the news until the next morning when he asked his grandmother for permission to use her phone to look up the election results.
This month marks one year since the passage of Proposition 57, a California ballot measure that prohibited district attorneys from filing charges against youth as young as 14 directly in adult criminal court through a practice known as “direct file.” The initiative passed with 64 percent of the vote, signaling strong popular support for curtailing prosecutorial authority and expanding access to the rehabilitative benefits of the juvenile justice system.
The parents who gathered on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall on a recent balmy Sunday morning came from different boroughs and ranged in age but all had one thing in common — all of them had buried a child who had been killed by the police.
At 7 a.m., teenagers are scurrying to dress and head to class. There are no parents or older siblings nearby to push them out of bed and out the door. And the commute isn’t long — just a short walk from prison bed to classroom.
The number of young people locked into adult jails and prisons has plummeted nearly two-thirds since 2009 and the number automatically sent to adult courts for criminal trials has fallen by nearly half from 2007 to 2014, a new report says.