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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 19, 2019 02:29 PM
From: Representative Joanna E. McClinton
To: All House members
Subject: Prohibiting the Pre-Trial Detention of Children in Adult Facilities
The effects of pre-trial detention and the abuses that accompany it are particularly harmful to children’s physical, mental, social and developmental health. Pre-trial detention is uniquely devastating to young men and women, often leading to issues in adulthood, higher rates of recidivism, and imposes a heavy burden on family members and communities who are most invested in their recovery and success.

Not only are children that are held in adult facilities 36% more likely to commit suicide than peers held in juvenile facilities, they are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted in adult prisons. Children experiencing behavioral health problems simply get worse in detention, not better, as they do not receive effective treatment. Youth in adult facilities often get little to no access to age-appropriate services like school, mental health services, and in-person family visits. Furthermore, the transition into incarceration itself is believed to be responsible for some of the observed increase of mental illnesses in detention.

The costs of pre-trial detention of children in adult facilities are substantial. Pre-trial detention costs an average of $400 per night and nearly $150,000 a year per youth in adult facilities. In New York City, for example, it costs 15 times more to detain a juvenile in an adult facility as compared to sending a youth to a detention alternative. Not only is removing children from adult facilities pre-trial the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, it saves taxpayer money as well.

My legislation will prohibit children from being detained pre-trial in adult facilities unless they are facing murder charges. I invite all my colleagues to support this much-needed legislation.

Introduced as HB1801