By Steven Yoder, The Imprint, November 22, 2020
A dozen years ago, New York state revealed that taxpayers were shelling out $140,000 to $200,000 each year to house each young person in the state’s juvenile facilities. Many of these supervised residential centers and deeply troubled youth prisons lined with razor wire and high-security locked gates were less than half full.
The state’s Office of Children and Family Services described in a 2008 report with a cover showing rows of empty beds, why some of the facilities needed shutting down: Public money could be far better spent on investments such as six first-year teachers, six caseworkers, or four undergraduate degrees from the public university system.
Today, that once-shocking price tag has grown four-fold to almost $900,000 a year for some of those detained, making New York’s youth lockups the most costly in the nation.