By Marco Poggio
At Crossroads Juvenile Detention Center in Brooklyn, barbed wire and tall unclimbable fences enclose the housing building, basketball courts and outdoor areas, like in every jail or prison. Detention hardware and security cameras are all over the place, like in every jail or prison.
Yet, says the facility director, Louis L. Watts, Crossroads is anything but a jail or a prison.
“When parents come, they see the outside and they tell me, ‘Oh my god, my son is in jail,’ but when they come inside and see, they say, ‘Wow, I could sleep here!’ They see that here their kids are taken care of,” Watts said.
As part of a campaign to highlight the role of the city Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) in the implementation of raise the age, legislation raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18, city officials gave news media a rare tour of the facility, offering an insight into what New York’s juvenile corrections will look like in the future.
The state will now divert young offenders away from prisons and jails where they’ve been sent for decades and to alternative-to-detention facilities like Crossroads. Youth under 18 will now be processed through Family Court rather than the criminal courts, offering them a better chance to turn their life around.