Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘michael bloomberg

Rikers Island and Irene

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A flurry of concern on Twitter yesterday & today about Bloomberg’s announcement that Rikers Island would not be evacuated as Hurricane Irene headed towards NYC. [Full story after the jump.] Read the rest of this entry »

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“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:

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