The arrest of three runaway boys for a horrific rape shines light on New York City’s latest program for troubled youth.
From Pacific Standard
In 2013, New York City began an experiment in how to more safely and effectively deal with children with minor criminal records: house them in small group homes close to their own neighborhoods; provide 24-hour supervision; and create two levels of oversight, involving both city and state officials.
Problems surfaced quickly. That first year, children ran off from the “non-secure” homes some 740 times. One child wound up stabbing someone to death in Queens. In 2014, the number of arrests of young residents of the homes totaled 177.
And then last week, three boys left a home in Brooklyn, made their way to Chinatown in Manhattan, and allegedly robbed and raped a 33-year-old woman in the staircase of an apartment building on Eldridge Street. The woman was hospitalized and the boys were arraigned in Manhattan Superior Court on Wednesday. The home, run by the Nebraska-based non-profit Boys Town, has been temporarily closed pending further investigation.
The alleged crime will doubtless draw attention to the city’s experiment, a program called Close to Home that is directly overseen by the Administration for Children’s Services. The idea was born of disaster: the secure upstate facilities that long housed juveniles convicted of crimes had for years been rampant with violence and sexual abuse, eventually becoming the target of federal investigators. But Close to Home was also born with a model in mind: an alternative-to-incarceration program for troubled youth in Missouri that has significantly reduced the number of repeat offenders in that state....
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