A spotlight on juvenile justice in NYC and beyond

Jan 22, 2010

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this week that the city's Department of Juvenile Justice is merging with its Administration for Children’s Services. For me, the good news is that this signals a real commitment to detaining fewer kids and making sure they get the care they need.

The merger is also promising because the administration recognizes that a juvenile justice system should not be a silo—or an island, if you will. Social services, child welfare, justice, and other concerns overlap and can be addressed together more effectively, more efficiently, and at a lower cost. If we can place fewer young people in facilities and they can get more appropriate services in their neighborhoods—with better results for less money, as a state task force recommended in a report published last month—everyone will come out ahead: children, families, communities, and taxpayers.

What’s especially striking to me is how much attention juvenile justice issues have received throughout the country in recent months—in the news, on editorial pages, and on radio, television, talk shows, and the Web. There seems to be a groundswell of people thinking reasonably and creatively about ways to treat children as children, with more meaningful strategies and without compromising public safety.