Back to RJ Archive

Reducing juvenile detention: Notes from an experiment on Staten Island

Fishman, Nancy L
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) New York Law School Law Review V.56 1476-1500

A young woman, Anna, fifteen years old, stands in the courtroom in front of a
New York City Family Court judge.’ She had been arrested two months earlier for
resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration because she had run
from truancy officers who stopped her on the street during school hours.2 Although
this arrest was part of a recent pattern of poor school attendance, declining grades,
and increasingly confrontational behavior that had led to significant family conflict,
Anna had no prior history of involvement in the juvenile justice or child welfare
systems, and she lived at home with her parents and siblings. At her arraignment,
the judge decided not to send her to a detention facility, but referred her instead to an
alternative-to-detention program (ATD). Such programs are designed to help young
people meet their obligations to the court and get back on track in school while
addressing some of the underlying issues leading to misbehavior.
Unfortunately, despite a promising start in the ATD, Anna has not been doing
well. She has built up a growing record of school absences, curfew violations, and
program violations at the ATD and was once again stopped by truancy officers.
Conflict in her home over this behavior escalated to the point where Anna’s parents
reached out to the Office of Corporation Counsel, and the case was advanced on the
court calendar to address Anna’s noncompliance. Anna and her parents are back in
court today, awaiting the judge’s decision.


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now