Close to Home
Today, I was fortunate to spend a few hours at Gracie Mansion attending a kick-off event for New York City's Close to Home initiative. As NYC Probation Commissioner Vinny Schiraldi explained, the program is a landmark effort to halt what has been the trend in juvenile justice for generations: confining increasingly large numbers of troubled urban kids in rural facilities. Instead, thanks to a unique partnership with Governor Cuomo and legislative change in Albany, the City will attempt to keep as many city kids as possible "close to home" by creating a range of new responses to delinquency, including non-secure group homes in all five boroughs and Westchester County.
I don't mean to wax rhapsodic, but the event made me feel proud to be a New Yorker -- both the talent and the commitment to change on display at Gracie Mansion were inspiring. Of course, it helped that the event had a significant Center for Court Innovation presence. Raye Barbieri and Jackie Sherman, two former Center staffers, are key players in the reform effort at the Administration for Children's Services. In addition, one of the new programs that was highlighted today -- Probation's Advocate Intervene Mentor (AIM) initiative -- will be implemented on Staten Island with the help of our Staten Island Youth Justice Center. All in all, a good day both for the Center and for the City.