Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘david paterson

New York Passes Legislation to End Prison-based Gerrymandering

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Yesterday, the New York State Senate passed a bill to count prisoners in their home communities during next year’s legislative redistricting process — rather than counting prisoners where they are incarcerated, which inflates the districts in which prisons are located at the expense of other districts. The bill had already passed in the State Assembly and now goes to Gov. David Paterson for his signature. New York is the third state to pass legislation this year addressing prison-based gerrymandering, after Maryland and Delaware.

From the Prisoners of the Census blog:

The new law will help New York correct past distortions in representation caused by counting incarcerated persons as residents of prisons, such as the following:

  • Seven of the current New York State Senate districts meet minimum population requirements only by claiming incarcerated people as residents.
  • Forty percent of an Oneida County legislative district is incarcerated, and 50 percent of a Rome City Council ward is incarcerated, giving the people who live next to the prisons more influence than people in other districts or wards.
    • Written by sara

      August 4, 2010 at 7:49 am

      Missouri Offers a Model for Fixing Troubled Juvenile Prisons

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      USA Today recently reported on New York State’s troubled juvenile prisons, and on problems more generally with the juvenile justice system nationwide. The article notes that Missouri’s innovative juvenile justice system could offer a model for states hoping to implement less punitive, more rehabilitative programs for juvenile offenders:

      Since 2000, the Justice Department has conducted at least 11 investigations into juvenile facilities in states including California, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland and Oklahoma. Its findings illustrate that the same problems persist: overreliance on physical restraint and insufficient mental health services.

      Other states that have come under federal investigation, including Louisiana, have adopted practices pioneered in Missouri. There, the juvenile system converted to small facilities more like treatment centers than prisons, focused on counseling and stopped the use of restraints. Only 8.6% of youths released from custody are recommitted within three years, the Missouri Department of Youth Services says. In New York, the figure is 45%, the [New York juvenile justice] task force [appointed by Gov. David Paterson] says.

      “In looking at the national picture, the old model is under serious change,” [head of New York task force Jeremy] Travis says. “You have places like New York saying, we want to follow (Missouri’s) lead and recognizing we’re very much stuck in an old corrective punitive model.”

      Written by sara

      February 4, 2010 at 7:04 am

      Shock Therapy

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      New York’s four “shock camps” throw selected nonviolent felony offenders into a military boot camp-style program, with academics, exercise, community service, counseling, and drug treatment. New York claims these programs have saved taxpayers billions over the years, and that participants have lower-than-average recidivism rates. Last week, Gov. Paterson proposed shuttering one of the four camps, the Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility in Mineville, as one of a slew of cost-cutting measures. Altogether, Gov. Paterson’s prison budget plan is expected to save $14.1 million, reports the Plattsburgh Press-Republican; New York corrections officials say they’ll divert the savings into expanded mental health and sex offender programs.

      Tomorrow, citizens are expected to rally to keep Moriah Shock open — among them Moriah Town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava, brother of a certain erstwhile Republican Congressional candidate. Over at North Country Public Radio, you can listen to Scozzafava explain why he thinks closing the Moriah camp is a bad idea, and hear a 1999 news report featuring interviews with inmates from Moriah Shock’s “Sixth Platoon.”

      Written by sara

      January 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      “A Penal Colony for Kids”

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      That’s how New York Magazine‘s Jennifer Gonnerman describes the Tryon Residential Center in her lengthy article this week on the upstate New York juvenile prison. [h/t: my favorite East Villager, Casey Degen.] Apart from being the place where a young Mike Tyson learned to box, Tryon doesn’t have a great track record: in recent years, kids have suffered concussions, broken bones, and even — in the case of 15-year-old Darryl Thompson of the Bronx — accidental death at the hands of staff there. (Thompson’s death was medically ruled a homicide, but the grand jury declined to indict.) The DOJ threatened to step in if conditions didn’t improve, Governor Paterson’s started a task force, and last week Mayor Bloomberg announced plans to restructure New York City’s juvenile justice system so as to incarcerate fewer teenage offenders.

      From a one-time height of over 300 boys, the center currently houses just 46 boys, as young as 12, half with diagnosed mental illnesses, most black, many with histories of abuse and stints in the foster care system, and most hailing from Brooklyn and the Bronx. It’s sort of like a twisted version of the Fresh Air Fund:

      To the kids from New York City, Tryon feels like Siberia. “It’s like being in outer space,” says a teenager from Linden Boulevard. The sun disappears by mid-afternoon, and the snow never seems to stop. To get from their cottage to the school building, the boys pull on hats, gloves, and boots, then walk a quarter-mile through howling wind. From their bedrooms, they can hear guns firing—not the sound of a drive-by but of deer hunters. The kids talk to their families on the telephone, but many of them never get a visit. It’s difficult to get here without a car, and the trip by train and cab from New York City can run close to $200 round trip, an impossibly steep price for most parents.

      Especially troubling is Gonnerman’s description of the mental health care services — or lack thereof — available to the boys incarcerated at Tryon:

      Read the rest of this entry »

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