Detention Deficit Disorder

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The NYPD’s aggressive lock-’em-up policy for teen lawbreakers is swamping overloaded juvenile jails–and costing $1.6 million this year in extra overtime pay.
The city’s two youth lock-ups had an average population of 315 offenders during the past six months, a 25 percent increase over last year. And so the city had been considering converting a prison barge for teen use, even though it recently built two new youth jails. Now officials are warning that the system may collapse without new non-uniformed workers.

The Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has slated an additional $3.6 million for overtime costs next fiscal year. At a March City Council hearing, newly appointed DJJ Commissioner Tino Hernandez, conceding the department needed more help, said he had recently hired 43 new counselors. Under pressure from councilmembers at the hearing, DJJ spokeswoman Sarina Roffe reported that the agency plans to hire 23 more counselors in the future.