The State Commission of Correction reported 337 assaults in New York’s four juvenile prisons last year, roughly triple the total of any of the previous four years, or an average of roughly 1.5 assaults per youth. Data showed 226 assaults against other juveniles and 111 attacks on staff, compared with 112 total violent incidents reported in 2011 at the four “secure” facilities operated by the Office of Children and Family Services. They had 211 residents in early January, down slightly from a year earlier. Though they can stay until age 21, their median age at the start of last year was just over 16.
The agency said assaults at the four secure detention centers slowed in the past six months, while attributing the 2012 spike partly to installing more video cameras and a new reporting system. Acknowledging prior reporting was less accurate, officials also say the youths in state custody tend to have more complex behavioral and psychological issues than ever before.
OCFS operates the Brookwood, Columbia Girls and Goshen secure facilities, all in the Hudson Valley, and MacCormick outside Ithaca. The agency recently announced plans to close four lower-level residential centers for juvenile delinquents, who are being sent to New York City programs closer to their homes.