‘Non-Secure Detention’ Program For St. John’s
Word spread throughout the west end and Rockaway Beach like a hurricane wind early this week that “12 criminals” would soon be living at the St. John’s Residence for Boys on Beach 110 Street. Some rumors went as far as to say that the barbed wire and guard towers have already been brought to the site and were ready to put in place.
The truth is much more sanguine, although up to a dozen teenagers who have been accused of criminal activity and need a place to stay while going through the system will soon be descending on Rockaway Beach.
The program is called “Non-secure Detention,” and St. John’s already runs a ten-bed program in Richmond Hill.
It is not clear whether the Richmond Hill facility will be moving to Rockaway or if these are new beds.
In any case, the teenagers in the program can indeed be classified as “criminals” and some of them are indeed dangerous.
One Rockaway resident who worked for the facility in Richmond Hills, but who asked to remain anonymous, told The Wave that he was taking one of the teens to Queens Family Court in Jamaica when he was attacked from behind and hospitalized for a short time.
The program is funded by the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice. That agency’s website says that the program “offers an alternative to secure detention [jail] for some of the young people remanded to the department’s custody. NSD provides structured residential care for alleged juvenile delinquents in a less-restrictive setting while awaiting disposition of their cases in family court.”
The agency says that the process of deciding the level of detention needed by each teen is determined when they are remanded by the court.
They are remanded, an official says, because they are no longer able to operate in the community and present a danger to themselves or others.
Some of those, the worst of the offenders, are kept in a locked juvenile facility while others are sent to non-secure facilities such as the one that will open in Rockaway.
Residents at the facility will live and study there, and will be transported to court as needed.
The program is run by the Administration for Children’s Services which says, “Workers are present and available in all dormitories and group homes to help youth adjust to detention, and to deal with individual problems. A multi-disciplinary team of staff provide a range of services within the facility. Case Managers ensure that these services are coordinated and are tailored to meet each youth’s needs.”
They are not, however, restricted to the facility and can go out into the community subject to a curfew, officials say.
A number of residents have already stated their opposition to placing known criminals in the middle of a residential and beach community.
Danny Ruscillo, the president of the 100 Precinct Community Council, told The Wave, “A ‘Non Secure Detention’ group home facility in the Rockaway Community, when will it ever end? I wonder what effect this will have on the young boys already at the St. John’s facility. I don’t believe this will be a good mix for the boys already there or for the community. Since no one in our community is aware of what the legal issues facing the new residents are, that should make us all very concerned about our quality of life and safety in our community.”