Protecting Formerly Incarcerated Minors who are Deemed Destitute Children
For some time minors incarcerated in New York State Correctional Facilities has been a hidden population with exact numbers known only to NYS DOCCS/NYS Department of Parole.
An incarcerated minor’s identity is not available on the “inmate lookup” section of the NYSDOCCS website, unless they come of legal age while incarcerated.
Their post release availability of appropriate services have been virtually non-existent, except for the practice of The NYS Department of Parole, who has been routinely and regularly releasing minor incarcerated persons into the custody of either The Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) in New York City or NYS county Departments of Social Services.
This post release practice includes a lack of direct services for those “minors” who are parents while incarcerated. Re-entry options for such circumstances are in need of review and revision.
The same practice in other states, if occurring, would be worthy of a research study.
Re-institutionalized minors, without parole status resources, post release caregivers, or other supportive services organizations, may or may not be a known population in need, other than under the NYS Family Court definition of “destitute child,” which has allowed for formerly incarcerated minors to become “foster children.”
Under amended NYS Family Court legislation:
(http://m.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6116-2011), followed by anticipated HHS Administration for Children and Youth Services legislative amendments, the changed legal definition for “destitute child” will allow for flexibility and hopefully, a discontinuation of the current practice of dual and continued dependency on institutionalizing formerly incarcerated minors.
The practice is being monitored by NYS agencies that will address the future legislative changes at their upcoming quarterly inter-agency meeting in October in Albany.
The NYC Council passed a resolution, (Res 1066-2011), in October 2011, for NYC inter-agency coordination on issues impacting children of incarcerated parents. Minors incarcerated in adult correctional facilities, or in NYC jails, with children, should also be of concern to the NYC Council in light of their resolution.
Any NYS state or federal legislative changes will open opportunities for advocates and other agencies to monitor and to pursue post release options for formerly incarcerated minors and their children.
Mainstreaming formerly incarcerated minors back into society as foster children, and those who are parents of children, is a practice that must be addressed and changed.