PLATTSBURGH — The State Department of Criminal Justice Services is teaming up with local law enforcement with the goal of lessening juveniles’ contact with the criminal-justice system.
The newly formed North County Regional Youth Justice Team, one of eight established across the state, met in Lake Placid recently, with officials in Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties in attendance.
Members include representatives from probation departments, youth-advocate programs, social-services departments, police departments and treatment programs.
New York state defines juveniles as children ages 7 through 15.
Department of Criminal Justice Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael Green said Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making it a priority to minimize New York children’s experience with the juvenile-justice system while maintaining public safety, which is still the main concern.
”These Regional Youth Justice Teams will provide local communities with an opportunity to have a real voice in those reform efforts and have a direct line of communication to state leaders who are making the decisions to improve the system,” Green said in a news release.
The teams aim to decrease the number of children referred to court, address the disproportionate number of minority youth who enter the juvenile-justice system, improve access to services and create partnerships among the courts and local and state agencies in the development of community-based interventions, the release said.
The teams will also apply for federal, state and private grants that could help fund the effort.
’BIG FIRST STEP’
“The team is going to kick around some ideas about what specifically they would like to work on, and the state will be there to develop an action plan to drive the process forward,” said Tom Andriola, director of policy and implementation for the New York State Department of Public Safety, who attended the team’s first meeting.