Contact: John Caher,
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services:  
(518) 457-8415, (518) 225-5240;
john.caher@dcjs.ny.gov

For release: Thursday, April 1, 2010, 3 p.m.

Officials Announce Juvenile Re-entry Initiative in Rochester

Federal stimulus funds committed to innovative initiative at Boys and Girls Club

An innovative partnership designed to break the cycle of juvenile recidivism in the Rochester area was announced today by state and local officials and the Monroe County Boys and Girls Club.

Sean M. Byrne, acting commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), said the state will commit approximately $500,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to reduce juvenile recidivism. The aid will support a collaborative program between the Monroe County Re-entry Task Force and the Boys and Girls Club.

The funding will help support the establishment of a satellite unit of the Boys and Girls Club at the Industry School, a secure juvenile detention center in Rush. There, youth awaiting release to Rochester will meet with and develop relationships with the people who will be monitoring them on the outside.

Upon release, the Boys and Girls Club will continue to play a key role, providing significant opportunities for youth to engage in positive activities and develop enduring relationships with strong role models.  Through the connections developed at the Industry School satellite, the other needs that youth have when they come home – mental health or substance abuse services, housing, educational advocacy, even clothing for school – will be addressed.

Acting Commissioner Byrne said the program will bring vital re-entry services – substance abuse, mental health, housing, literacy, employment skills, etc. – to youth returning to Monroe County after release from juvenile placement, with the goal of ensuring that these juveniles avoid the pipeline to adult criminality.

The announcement comes on the heels of a report by Governor David A. Paterson’s Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice, which, in December, harshly criticized the state’s juvenile justice system, concluding that, “At the most basic level, New York is investing enormous sums in a system that does not deliver what it promises.”

Acting Commissioner Byrne noted that a 1999 study by DCJS found that 81 percent of boys and 45 percent of girls released from juvenile facilities in New York State were re-arrested within 36 months of release.

“I am sorry to say that things have only gotten worse over the past decade,” Acting Commissioner Byrne said. “A more recent study by the Office of Children and Family Services found that 89 percent of boys and 81 percent of girls were re-arrested by age 28. Eighty-three percent of boys and 63 percent of the girls were arrested on felony-level charges. And of the 57 boys who were not re-arrested – 12 are dead. Rather than serving as a vehicle for the rehabilitation of juveniles, New York’s juvenile justice system is a precursor to adult criminal justice involvement.”

Acting Commissioner Byrne said the Boys and Girls Club initiative seeks to provide the after-care services that help wayward youth become productive, law-abiding adults.

“This is an investment in communities and lives,” Acting Commissioner Byrne said. “It will benefit all youth returning home to Monroe County after placement in state custody, and in the long run it will benefit society. Re-entry is, first and foremost, a public safety issue.”

New York State Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Gladys Carrión said, "We are pleased to be part of this collaboration, a result of the Governor’s Task Force. Through such cooperation among agencies, we will improve outcomes for the children and families of New York State."

Acting Commissioner Byrne joined at the press conference by: Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks; Monroe County District Attorney Michael C. Green; Senator Joseph E. Robach; Rochester City Councilman Adam C. McFadden; Monroe County Sheriff Patrick M. O’Flynn; Rochester Police Chief David Moore; Dwayne Mahoney, executive director, Monroe County Boys and Girls Club; Alvin D. Lollie, Industry School Facility Director; Ann Graham, director, Monroe County Reentry at Catholic Family Center; Carolyn Portanova, President/CEO of Catholic Family Center; Robert Burns, probation administrator; Alfred Mancuso, former offender; and approximately two dozen local youth.

“Recognizing that the majority of youth offenders are at high-risk to be re-arrested within those first critical months and years of their release, we found it absolutely necessary to tackle this issue head-on and collaborate with organizations across the community,” said Monroe County Executive Brooks. “With today's announcement, we have helped to ensure that a majority of the individuals leaving incarceration in our area learn to reform themselves and not commit another crime that sends them back.”

Mr. Lollie said the initiative represents the state Office of Children and Family Services’ “deeper understanding of the youth we serve, and the life trauma they have experienced. This partnership with the Boys and Girls Club will now become an integral part of these efforts.  The Boys and Girls Club partnership will enhance our efforts to ensure that all our children are provided the best possible opportunities for future success.”

The press conference featured a presentation by former offender Al Mancuso, 78, who “graduated” from New York’s juvenile justice system and then spent 33 years in state prison before his release in 2008. Mr. Mancuso said the connection between the Industry School and the Boys and Girls Club will foster the “positive decision-making” that is crucial to curbing juvenile crime.

“I had three decades behind bars to think about what went wrong in my life and to regret the stupid, self-destructive and negative decisions I made as a young man,” said Mr. Mancuso, who is spearheading a “positive decision-making” initiative with his nephew, Chuck Mancuso, the 2002 Fairport citizen of the year.

 “I can’t turn back the clock, but I can help steer young people away from the path I took,” Al Mancuso said. “Since the Board of Parole granted me freedom in 2008, I have made it my mission in life to help young people and to encourage them to make positive decisions in their life. The Monroe County juvenile re-entry project is a step in that direction.”

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.