By David Brand
A Manhattan State Supreme Court judge determined last week that the Administration for Children’s Services unlawfully sent paroled kids back to jail despite a reform initiative meant to keep them out of detention and near their communities.
Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead ruled May 13 that ACS violated the state’s 2012 “Close to Home” measure, which was designed to keep children on parole in ACS “aftercare” custody near their homes.
The Office of Children and Family Services was supposed to develop regulations to give ACS authority over parole and supervision, but never did. In the absence of the OCFS regulations, ACS developed its own standards for revoking parole and re-incarcerating children, in violation of state law.
The Legal Aid Society filed the lawsuit against ACS on behalf of a juvenile client in October 2018. But the result came too late for many children unlawfully incarcerated, said Dawne Mitchell, attorney-in-charge of Legal Aid’s Juvenile Rights Practice.
“This ruling finds that ACS unlawfully deprived our clients and others of their liberty and re-incarcerated as they saw fit without working off of any valid regulations,” Mitchell said. “This is a major victory, but the damage has already been done for the hundreds of youth whose aftercare was revoked in an unlawful and capricious fashion. We thank the Court for righting this injustice.”