Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: May 30, 2000

Seal of the Unified Court System
www.nycourts.gov
Court System Announces Nation's First Juvenile Probation Violation Court
BRONX, NY - Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman today announced the creation of the Juvenile Probation Violation Court in the Bronx, the first court in the nation focusing on delinquent youths assigned to intensive probation. Operating as a pilot project within the Bronx Family Court, the new program re-engineers the relationship between the court system and the Department of Probation by establishing an early, active judicial presence in juvenile probation cases to address minor infractions aggressively before they escalate to more serious, often criminal, behavior.

The court will handle cases exclusively from the New York City Department of Probation's intensive supervision program for juvenile delinquents. Assigning these cases after sentence to one judge will give both the court and the Department of Probation additional tools to assure compliance among young probationers. Presently, these cases rarely appear in court until a violation has been committed, which may be too late in terms of preventing long-term criminal involvement for these high-risk youths. Under the new program, probationers will be required to appear regularly before a judge, who will monitor compliance and can impose a comprehensive menu of sanctions as needed to promote responsible behavior. The court will serve as the central hub of communication and cooperation among the multiple agencies involved in juvenile probation cases, ensuring that critical decision-making information is accurate and current.

"Juvenile probationers are at a critical juncture in their lives," said Chief Judge Kaye. "They can either be restored as law-abiding members of their communities or succumb to the pull of criminality. With a 35-percent violation rate for juveniles receiving intensive probationary supervision in New York City, the Juvenile Probation Violation Court will focus on early intervention in an effort to keep young offenders from engaging in more serious misconduct. Instead of waiting to step in when a severe violation has already occurred, the court will monitor these youngsters during the entire period of probation, providing supportive services to address their problems, and if necessary imposing immediate sanctions along the way to discourage further criminal activity. The assistance this innovative new court will offer to help maintain law-abiding behavior among juvenile delinquents can reap positive long-term outcomes for these youths, their families and the community."

Judge Lippman said, "The Juvenile Probation Violation Court is a result of cooperation between the New York State court system and the New York City Department of Probation, which initiated a special program in 1990 to help juvenile probationers stay out of trouble. The byproduct of this intergovernmental partnership is a court that promises to help steer high-risk youths away from destructive behavior and keep them with their families and in their schools and communities, without compromising public safety."

Probation Commissioner Raul Russi noted, "Over the last six years, New York City has made tremendous progress in reducing crime. However, to protect those gains and make this city even safer, we must find more effective ways to intervene in the lives of troubled youth. The creation of the Juvenile Probation Violation Court will give us a powerful new tool in dealing with high-risk juvenile delinquents. I am confident that this historic initiative will help to reduce the chances that the young people placed on probation will go on to become career criminals."

The Juvenile Probation Violation Court, scheduled to open this Fall, will feature the following:

  • Specialized Judge: A dedicated judge will provide ongoing oversight from the initial sentence of probation through the entire life of the case. Probationers will be required to appear regularly in court before the judge to assess compliance with the conditions of probation and specific program mandates.
  • Substance Abuse Screening: Drug testing, substance abuse evaluations and treatment referrals will occur right at the courthouse to address drug abuse by probationers.
  • Family Outreach: Court staff will help link families with services designed to assist them in maintaining home placement for their delinquent youngster.
  • Dedicated Team: A dedicated team of court personnel, probation and social service staff will work with City agencies, treatment providers and family members to promote the juvenile's participation in constructive interventions tailored to address his or her unique problems.
  • Sanctions and Incentives: To bolster compliance with probation, the judge can impose sanctions - such as increased reporting, electronic monitoring, curfews and home confinement - as well as offer rewards in the way of recreational, educational and training opportunities. The judge will also be able to enhance the conditions of probation to address specific issues that arise during the course of supervision and deal flexibly with technical violations, such as failure to report.

  • Broad Partnerships: The court will foster collaborative partnerships to ensure access to services that address problems such as substance abuse, mental health issues and effective parenting. As truancy is a significant factor in juvenile crime, the Board of Education will be a major partner in the court program.